Among the service members who have died since the conflict began in March 2003, the stories of several have lingered in the minds of Times reporters and photographers, even if they weren’t necessarily close to them.
Whenever I’m thundering over Iraq in a helicopter, I think of a colleague who died in a copter crash in Afghanistan years ago, and I pray that my aircraft makes it safely to the landing pad. From now on, I’ll also think of Air Force Staff Sgt. Christopher S. Frost, who died in a helicopter crash in Iraq on March 3, six months after arriving here.
I knew Frost mainly through e-mails: He was a public affairs officer and often sent messages to the media offering us stories, interviews or trips to view U.S. and Iraqi military operations. I responded to one of his first e-mail invitations.
“I hope this will be the start of a great relationship,” Frost wrote back after I confirmed my attendance.
I didn’t write a story on the trip, but the two of us hit it off. Frost’s name suited his fair complexion, round, snowman-like face, and wide, pale blue eyes. As we spoke, I couldn’t help thinking of Frosty the Snowman, despite the warm day.
He peppered me with questions about my work in Iraq, and he clearly considered himself a journalist as well as a military man. Over time, I noticed he added “Combat Journalist” when signing his e-mails, which trickled into my inbox through fall and winter.
The online journal maintained by Frost, who was 24, included the usual lists — favorite bands, movies and TV shows — but also spoke of his passion for photojournalism and included colorful descriptions of his adventures across Iraq.
One of Frost’s last postings was Feb. 29, three days before he died. “I have a ton of trips planned next week,” he wrote, and he promised to post fresh photographs for friends and fans who read his journal.
Frost and seven Iraqi airmen were killed in an Iraqi army helicopter crash the day before I left the country for a short break. I didn’t pay much attention to the news, but because of my obsession with helicopter crashes, I found myself reading a report on the incident two days later.
When I saw Frost’s name, I wondered the same things that I always wondered about my friend in Afghanistan: Did he know they were about to crash? Could he see what was happening? Was he afraid?
I hoped not. I still hope not.
Air Force Staff Sgt. Christopher S. Frost never forgot about those around him, his father said. “When he would ask to have stuff sent from home, whether it was batteries, candies or snacks, it would not be for him,” Gary Frost said. “It would be for the kids or the troops out in the field for whom he had the utmost respect.” Frost, 24, of Waukesha, Wis., was killed March 3 near Beiji in a crash of an Iraqi military helicopter. He was assigned to Kirtland Air Force Base. “The Air Force lost a great airman, the country lost a great patriot and Wisconsin lost a great cheesehead,” said his friend and former supervisor, Morgan O’Brien.
Frost worked in public affairs, as editor of The Advisor, a semimonthly publication of the Multi-National Security Transition Command-Iraq. Frost’s father said he “had high hopes of becoming a top journalist someday.” He was ecstatic when one of his stories was picked up by a paper in Spokane, Wash. “He loved the challenge and the relentlessness of his job,” he said. He is survived by his wife, Ashley, a 5-year-old daughter, Mackenzie, and a 2-year-old son, Mitchel.
Staff Sergeant Christopher S. Frost;
Christopher Entered into Eternal Life at the age of 24 years on March 4, 2008, protecting his country in Iraq. He is the Loving Husband of Ashley. Dear Father of Mackenzie, Mitchel, and Trinity. Dearest son of Garry and Bridget Frost. Dear brother of John (Elizabeth) Frost. Proud grandson of Marjorie Strabel, Mary Jean Frost and Galen Kurth. Dear uncle of Emily and Nathan. Christopher is further survived by other relatives and many friends.
Visitation will be held on Wednesday, March 12th, 2008 from 3 – 8 PM at CHURCH AND CHAPEL FUNERAL HOME, 380 Bluemound Rd., Waukesha (corners of Hwy J and Hwy JJ, 4 blks south of I-94) and also on Thursday, March 13th, at the Funeral Home, Visitation from 9 – 10 AM with a Funeral Service at 10 AM with Interment at Prairie Home Cemetery, with Military Honors. In lieu of flowers, memorials to SSgt. Christopher S. Frost Memorial Fund at any Chase Bank would be appreciated.
Christopher loved what he was doing, and he was doing what he loved ’till the end.’
He loved the challenge and the relentlessness of his job. He had high hopes of being a top journalist one day. He was editor of The Advisor, a semi-monthly publication of the Multi-National Security Transition Command. He would go out of his way to get that one shot with his camera. He was ecstatic when one of his stories was picked up by a Spokane, WA paper.
He is esteemed by the people that worked around him for his willingness to tackle any assignment or mission. When he would ask for stuff to be sent from home, whether batteries, candy or snacks, it would not be for him, but for the kids and troops out in the field – of whom he had the utmost respect.
He is going to be deeply missed by many, and the many he touched —-
by him being himself.
24, of Waukesha, Wis.; assigned to 377th Air Base Wing, Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M.; killed March 4 near Bayji, Iraq, in an Iraqi Army Mi-17 helicopter crash. The circumstances surrounding the crash are under investigation.
Wisconsin airman killed in helicopter crash in Iraq
The Associated Press
WAUKESHA, Wis. — An airman from Wisconsin who was deployed to support security forces in Iraq died along with seven Iraqi air force members in a helicopter crash, military officials said March 5.
Staff Sgt. Christopher S. Frost, 24, of Waukesha, died March 4 near Bayji, Iraq, when the Iraqi army Mi-17 helicopter crashed, the Department of Defense said.
Frost was assigned to the 377th Air Base Wing out of Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M. He worked with the base’s public affairs office.
The other seven people on board were members of the Iraqi air force, according to a statement issued by Kirtland. There were no survivors.
The circumstances surrounding the accident remained under investigation, but the statement said the crash occurred in a dust storm.
Frost had been deployed in Iraq since September. His role was to support a command team responsible for organizing and training Iraqi security forces.
A six-year veteran of the Air Force, Frost had been stationed at the Kirtland base since July 2005.
Frost’s grandmother, reached by telephone at home March 5, told The Associated Press it was too early for her to discuss her grandson’s death.
“It’s just too difficult,” Mary Frost said. “It just makes me feel worse than I already do.”
An uncle of Christopher Frost also said the family would have no immediate comment.
Officials at Kirtland said Frost will be missed, and they are planning a memorial service for him.
“Staff Sergeant Frost was motivated by the work he was doing in Iraq. He was excited about the opportunity he had to cover the story of the Iraqi air force,” said Kirtland installation commander Col. Robert Suminbsy.