Monday, June 27, 2005

Army Chief Warrant Officer Steven E. Shephard

Remember Our Heroes

Army Chief Warrant Officer Steven E. Shephard, 30, of Purcell, Oklahoma.

Shephard died near Taji, Iraq, when his AH-64D Apache helicopter crashed. He was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 3rd Aviation Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Died on June 27, 2005.

Shephard’s name to adorn Purcell's ariport
The Purcell Register (405) 527-2126

Purcell, OK -- Despite two dissenting votes Monday night, the Purcell airport will be renamed in honor of a Purcell graduate and avid aviator who died in June while serving his country.

“Steven E. Shephard had a passion for flying and he was a large part of Purcell’s soul,” longtime friend and schoolmate, Jay Tate, told the Purcell City Council.

The memorial idea was brought before the Purcell Airport Authority Friday. The five-member board voted unanimously for the name change.

Due to pilot safety, though, the airport board felt that leaving the name Purcell at the beginning was of utmost importance.

Airport board members Don Woolly, James Engdahl, Pat Mayes, chairman Ron Page and Johnny Taylor felt the airport would be well served with Shephard’s name.

It was recommended to the council that the airport be named Purcell Municipal Airport Steven E. Shephard Field.

For the airport to be renamed, the city council was required to pass the resolution.
Tate told the council that they had a tremendous opportunity to do something for the community. He said he believed it would be a comfort for Shephard’s family and leave behind a legacy for his unborn daughter.

Mayor Betty Gerhard and councilmen Tully McCoy and Randy Hadley voted for the change, while councilmen Paul Hardcastle and Kenn Brown voted against the issue. Hardcastle was for the name change, but felt space needed to be left on the signage to memorialize others that may be war casualties. The signage issue was briefly discussed, but Monday night’s vote dealt only with the resolution on the name change.

Interim city manager Eric Johnson will be conferring with the Shephard family as to what type of signs will be constructed. This issue will be brought before the council at a later time along with where the signs will be placed. Following the passage of the resolution, the city manager or mayor will write a letter to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requesting the change.

During mayor and council comments, a tearful Gerhard thanked the Shephard family for the grace and dignity they and Steven had brought to this community.

Army Warrant Officer Shephard, 30, and the co-pilot, were killed June 27 near Taji, Iraq. They were flying an AH-64 Longbow Apache attack helicopter at the time of the crash.

Shephard was committed to flying since he was a youngster, according to his family. He had his pilot’s license before graduating from high school.

Before joining the service in 2002, Shephard taught aviation at Kansas State University. He had also taught at the United States Air Force Academy. His aviation degree was from Oklahoma State University.

“My son loved this airport. He would fly over to see the lake and golf course and just loved it. It was his home,” Shephard’s mother, Barbara, told the airport authority.

Army Chief Warrant Officer Steven E. Shephard was killed in action on 06/27/05.

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