TEMPLE, Texas — The Lake Point community dedicated its park here, May 22, in memory of Chief Warrant Officer 2 David Knadle and Chief Warrant Officer 2 Kirk Fuchigami Jr., two Fort Hood aviators who were killed in action in 2019.
The Apache helicopter aviators, who both lived in the neighborhood, were assigned to 1st Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division. While deployed and on a mission in the Logar Province of Afghanistan, their helicopter crashed and they were killed Nov. 20, 2019.
On Jan. 11, the neighborhood’s Homeowner’s Association asked residents to vote on renaming the park the David Knadle and Kirk Fuchigami Memorial Park, with a Soldier’s Cross statue located underneath the sign. The neighborhood voted unanimously for the park designation.
“I love that! I love that the community came together,” Kevin Cundiff, vice president of the HOA, said. “I’m glad that more than 400 people gave an astounding yes.”
Chief Warrant Officer 2 Cameron Evans, Company B, 1st Bn., 227th Aviation Regt., said he was fortunate and blessed to have served with both aviators, who were both well-respected.
“Dave has an incredible mentor, aviator and family man. He was always willing to take the time to guide new aviators,” Evans said. “Kirk’s passion as an aviator motivated all of us to become better. He would give the shirt off his back if you asked him.”
On behalf of McKenzie, Fuchigami’s widow, Maj. Chaz Allen, operations officer for 3rd Bn., 227th Aviation Regt., spoke about the legacy the fallen Soldiers left behind. Discussing the book “Hagakure: The Book of the Samurai” by Yamamoto Tsunetomo, Allen said that the way of the Samurai is found in death.
“It’s dying that hero’s death and leaving behind something that inspires and motivates others to be the very best versions of themselves,” Allen added. “That legacy is real and effective and it’s palpable.”
He said he grew close to the widows of Knadle and Fuchigami about six months after their husbands died. He shared that his brother, Air Force 1st Lt. Kage Allen, died when his F-15 went down in the North Sea. In his own darkest hour, the two women came to him and lifted him up.
“These two women, who were grieving and struggling with unimaginable pain, came to our home and buoyed us up at a time when we thought we might not make it through,” Allen shared. “What really gave us that light to latch onto was them. Knowing that they had made it and knowing that there’s still ways to continue to love and to serve and inspire.”
Knadle’s widow Silkey, who recently moved to Arlington to be closer to family, shared how much the dedication meant to her because the neighborhood was home and meant a lot to her family.
“It makes me really proud to see what David built, these relationships and the influence he had, and the respect he earned in such a short time,” she said. “What we made here, we made a life and it’s one I’m very proud of.”
Silkey said it was the Lake Point community, and the surrounding cities of Temple and Belton, who helped them and kept them lifted up following their husbands deaths.
“You showed up in the darkest moments of our life and held us from the ground,” Silkey shared. “You brought us to this moment, to honor and respect, not only our husbands, but every fallen member and every member who has served.”