|Polk County Enterprise - Local News
Stories Added - July 2009
Copyright 2008 - Polk County Publishing Company
Livingston man dies in helicopter crash in Afghanistan
Polk County Enterprise - July 2009
LIVINGSTON — Investigators have identified one American onboard the Russian helicopter that crashed Sunday in Kandahar, Afghanistan as James Waterman, 27, of Livingston. Waterman was a U.S. Army veteran who served one tour of duty in Iraq and participated in the invasion of Baghdad in 2003. He received an honorable discharge in 2003. Funeral arrangements are pending with Cochran Funeral Home with services to be held at First Assembly of God in Livingston.
The date will be announced later. A military honor guard notified family members Sunday. Waterman will be escorted back to Dover Air Force Base by Army personnel that served with him in Iraq. Waterman began working for The AIM Group in early July and was sent to South Carolina for training. He arrived in Afghanistan July 12, family members said Tuesday. “He was the superintendent of a crew that was going to build outposts for the military,” his younger brother, National Guardsman Thomas Waterman Jr. said. The Russian-owned Mi-8 transporter helicopter plunged to the ground just after takeoff from NATO’s main base in southern Afghanistan, military officials said Monday. The civilians were working under contract to Western military forces. Military contractors handle many supply runs to remote bases in the mountainous regions, sometimes facing dangers comparable to those encountered by combat troops.
North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s (NATO) International Security Assistance Force told the Los Angeles Times it had ruled out hostile fire as a cause of the incident Sunday, which took place on the grounds of the sprawling Kandahar field that is the hub of coalition operations in the south. Tens of thousands of civilians from around the world work there, handling tasks ranging from construction and food service to quasi-military roles. Waterman is the son of Trina Martin, a longtime pro shop manager and fitness trainer at Moseley’s Gymnastics and Fitness, and Elmer May of Woodville.
He is also survived by his sister and brother-in-law, Faith Whatley- Torres and Diego Torres of Livingston; his brother, Thomas Waterman Jr. of Livingston; grandparents, Yvry Turner of Livingston, Janie Waterman of New Hampshire and Rodney and Roberta West of Hoop and Holler, Texas; and nieces, Hallie and Michai of Livingston. He graduated from Livingston High School in 2000 and enlisted in the U.S. Army in 2001. The terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 came as Waterman was preparing to leave for basic training, his mother Trina Martin said Tuesday. The helicopter carried 17 passengers and three crew members, according to Times reports.
Civilian contractors and military forces alike are heavily reliant on helicopters for ferrying supplies and personnel around Afghanistan, especially with this summer’s increasing number of troops. Projections show the number of American military personnel in the country at 68,000 or more by year’s end. Insurgent activity makes ground transportation unsafe, making helicopters a vital means of transport. The AIM Group website reports it is a global oilfield and petroleum industry service company with offices in the Houston area.