Miles Henderson dies in helicopter crash
Miles Henderson became an Army aviator because he wanted to help avenge the terror attacks of September 11, 2001.
He was married for just three weeks when he deployed overseas. On Monday he became the 2,268th soldier killed in action in Iraq.
Henderson was piloting an Apache helicopter over Salah ad Din Province, northwest of Baghdad, when he and another aviator were killed in the crash of an Apache helicopter gunship.
The cause of the crash is still under investigation, according to the Army. Early reports did not indicate any hostile fire at the time he helicopter went down.
Henderson, 24, and his wife, Artis, both claimed Fort Myers as their hometown, although he was originally from Canadian, Texas, a panhandle town of about 2,300.
His wife could not provide many details about his death. She said she was still in a state of shock and disbelief this afternoon.
She learned of his death last night when she came home and found two uniformed army officers at her front door.
The words they spoke were the same ones so many others have had to hear during wartime, devastating in their simplicity.
"They said they regretted to inform me that Chief Warrant Officer Miles Henderson had been killed in action and that the matter was under investigation," Artis said.
"I just stood there in disbelief. There was no way I was mentally prepared for this."
Now, sometimes choking back tears, Artis said, she is left with memories of the man she married five short months ago.
"My regret is that I was so convinced this would never happen," she added. "I wish I had prepared some kind of speech or something to tell you what he was like. He was so young, so handsome. Everything one could ask for in a husband."
He was also, she said, a dedicated soldier.
"He always said if something happened to him to tell everyone he was proud to serve his country," she said. "He was honored to be there (Iraq). He said he worked with a wonderful group of guys and girls. I know he would have went there even if he knew it would turn out this way. He was one of those who believed he was making things safer for all of us."
At some point his remains will be brought back to his family and, according to his wishes, he will be cremated and his ashes scattered above his family"s ranch in Texas. For now, his widow -- a term she hasn't yet adjusted to -- lives with the memories of her whirlwind romance with the soldier a friend introduced her to.
She was working for then-Senator Bob Graham in Tallahassee and he was training at nearby Fort Rucker, Ala.
"It was just love at first sight," she said. "A friend introduced us and after that we were together every weekend. He was the man I had always dreamed about. He was so generous, so giving and so self sacraficing. I still haven1t accepted this."
In the cruel calculus of war, number 2,268 died in that Iraq crash. For Artis Henderson it was her true love.