News of the death of Pfc. Pendelton L. Sykes II, 25, reached his family in Chesapeake, Va., early Saturday when the military confirmed that he was killed when his CH-47 helicopter went down in a sandstorm in Ghanzi, 80 miles south of the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Sykes was one of eight soldiers killed in the crash Wednesday while supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. The Defense Department said six other soldiers who were on the helicopter were unaccounted for yesterday.
Pfc. Pendelton L. Sykes II of Chesapeake, Va.
The helicopter crashed as it returned to Bagram, the American base north of Kabul, from a mission to deliver mail, supplies and transport personnel in the insurgency-plagued south, according to news reports.
Sykes's mother, Pam Barrett, told WTKR NewsChannel 3 in Hampton Roads that her son joined the military two years ago with a desire to see the world.
Even though he was in boot camp, she thought of him as her baby. But Sykes emerged calling her "ma'am," she said.
He said, "I'm a soldier," Barrett told the station.
Reached by telephone yesterday in Chesapeake, one of Sykes's relatives said the family would not be giving additional interviews.
Sykes was assigned to the 5th Battalion, 159th Aviation Regiment, 12th Aviation Brigade out of Giebelstadt, Germany.
Barrett told the television station that her son attended Indian River High School and loved to cook. She said he leaves behind a wife and many grieving relatives in Chesapeake.
Staff researcher Bobbye Pratt contributed to this report.