In Defense of Freedom Statue - 1LT Joseph Helton Memorial
Unveiling of 1LT Helton statue
Closeup of statue
Painting portrait of 1LT Joseph Helton
Helton's mother, Jiffy Sarver speaking at the dedication ceremony
Backstory and Context
1LT Joseph Helton was killed in action (KIA) on September 8. 2009 after the vehicle he was in was hit by an IED. The day 1LT Helton was killed, he was filling in for another airman that had not made it back from leave status. Helton’s home base was in Tampa, FL, at the 6th SF Squadron, MacDill, AFB, FL. Helton was deployed to Iraq where he was serving as a flight commander for the 732nd Expeditionary SF Squadron. The 6th SF Squadron was renamed “Helton Hall” shortly after Helton’s.
While in Iraq, 1LT Helton assisted in the training of Iraqi police officers. After the first rotation of his deployment was nearing its end, the “732nd” needed volunteers to stay behind for an additional deployment rotation and Helton volunteered. Throughout his time in Iraq, 1LT Helton kept up on a journal where he kept track of his duties and responsibilities. The duties and responsibilities consisted of “1,812 combat missions, 392 patrols, and 111 warrants within 605 square miles.” There were 27 Iraqi police departments located within the 605 square miles and according to Helton’s journal, he and other soldiers noticed a reduction in violence in response to their patrols of the area and the training of Iraqi forces.
Helton attended the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs where he developed a close connection with his sponsor, a retired USAF colonel, Dennis Keegan. Keegan donated the $22,000.00 needed to make the memorial statue which depicts Helton holding his M4 rifle. The base of the statue is a granite material with names of the SF fallen soldiers since the September 11. 2001 attacks engraved on it. A replica of the memorial statue is located in Walton County Georgia where Helton was raised.
Howard Altman, Times Staff WriterLinkView all Articles, Times Staff, Times Staff, Charlie Frago and Sara DiNatale, Times Staff Writers, Matt Baker Times Staff Writer, and Associated Press. "MacDill statue honors fallen officer who trained police in Iraq." Tampa Bay Times. Accessed September 23, 2017. http://www.tampabay.com/news/military/macdill/macdill-statue-honors-fallen-security-officer-who-trai....
"Home." MacDill Air Force Base. September 12, 2016. Accessed September 23, 2017. http://www.macdill.af.mil/News/Features/Display/Article/941434/a-defenders-legacy-honored-rememberin....