|Photo Courtesy of the Maine National Guard|
Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Jessica Wing (left) stands with members of Bangor's 126th Aviation Medevac unit in the Middle East in this undated photo with a UH-60 Blackhawk in the background. Wing, 42, who was from Glenburn, Maine, and Alexandria, Va., was a crew chief and died on Monday, Aug. 27, while serving in Kuwait.
ALEXANDRIA, VA. - The Department of Defense announced Wednesday the death of a soldier Monday who recently lived in Alexandria and was serving in Kuwait as a Blackhawk helicopter pilot supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.
Despite being deployed for many years to the Maine National Guard, the DOD reported Wing's hometown as Alexandria, where she had also lived for many years as a citizen-soldier.
Staff Sgt. Jessica M. Wing, 42, of Alexandria and
Glenburn, Maine, died Aug. 27, in Kuwait City,
Kuwait in a non-combat related incident.
Staff Sgt. Jessica M. Wing, 42, of Alexandria and Glenburn, Maine, died Aug. 27, in Kuwait City, Kuwait in a non-combat related incident. Wing was a helicopter crew chief and was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 126th Aviation Regiment, Bangor, Maine, and was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom at the time of her death. Her unit provides medical evacuation to military personnel on UH-60 Blackhawks.
The News Sun Journal of Maine reported that Wing was a member of the National Guard and had deployed three times to the Middle East while in the Guard. Prior to her National Guard duty, Wing had deployed to Haiti and Bosnia while in the Army, and had recently lived in Alexandria while serving in the private sector.
Wing loved her job and spent more than half of her life in military service, a longtime friend, Staff Sgt. Sean Miller, told Nok-Noi Ricker of The Bangor Daily News. Wing spent 23 years in uniform.
“It’s just a real shock,” Miller told the Bangor Daily News in a telephone interview Wednesday. “She was very dedicated to the Army, her job and to her friends. My heart is filled with sorrow.”
Wing had been mobilized three times during her 11 years fixing helicopters as an active-duty U.S. Army soldier, once to Haiti and twice to Bosnia, before moving to Maine and joining the 126th medevac unit — known as the “Black Bears” — eight years ago.
“She served with distinction during her active-duty deployments,” Capt. Shanon Cotta, spokesman for the Maine Army National Guard, told the Bangor paper Wednesday. “Wing was on her third deployment with the Maine Army National Guard to the Middle East in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.”
After getting out of the regular Army, but before she returned to Maine, Wing also served as a citizen soldier in Alexandria, Miller said.
Her mother died about two years ago. She is survived by her father, who lives in Maine, and two sisters, her friend said.
In addition to her Guard job, she also had a second job fixing and maintaining helicopters at the Army Aviation Support Facility in Bangor. “She wanted to make sure the aircraft we have at the Army Aviation Support Facility were taken care of while she was gone,” her friend told the Bangor paper. “She was very dedicated to her job. She always demanded excellence of herself and the soldiers around her.”
With two decades of experience fixing and maintaining helicopters — Black Hawk, Huey, Apache and other aircraft — she was the unit’s go-to person, he said. “She was a subject matter expert,” Miller said. “A lot of other people went to her with questions.”
Details about how she died have not yet been released. The tragic incident is currently under investigation by the Department of Defense.
Wing was featured in a 2005 Bangor Daily News story, written just before her fourth deployment. She and three other helicopter mechanics with the 126th were leaving for Kuwait, and the veteran soldier acknowledged that — even with her previous experience — there are no guarantees in life.
“It doesn’t matter how many times you’ve been deployed, once or 100 times, it’s all the same,” Wing told the paper at the time. “You don’t know what you’re getting into.”
Funeral arrangements for Wing have not yet been made.