Oswego (WSYR-TV) -- A non-combat related gunshot is to blame for the death of a 23-year-old Soldier from Oswego. The family of Army Specialist Kyle Rookey was told he died at a military base in Afghanistan on September 2.
As the investigation continues, memories fuel Carol Sue Akers through each difficult day knowing her first born child will not be coming home.
"He always liked to fly. Pencils, toys, stuffed animals...ever since he was little, he was always flying around the house with them,” said Akers.
The kid who loved music, theater and flying decided to serve his country as a teenager. Instead of going to college, Kyle Rookey tested for a spot in the Army.
"He did so well that the recruiter said, ‘Okay, what do you want to do? Pick anything.’ He said, ‘I want to fly!’ So, once he told us that he was going to get to fly, we knew that was a good fit,” Ackers said.
Specialist Rookey had deployed in March and was expecting to leave Afghanistan next month to reunite with his new wife and 11-month-old daughter, Flora.
According to the Department of Defense, Rookey was serving in Jalalabad, Afghanistan when he died. He was assigned to the 4th Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division. His wife had recently moved to Colorado to prepare for his homecoming. Rookey was based in Fort Carson, Colorado.
A procession will escort the casket to Oswego, where a funeral and burial are being planned. Friends and strangers are working to establish two funds, one to pay for Flora Rookey's education, and another to make donations to the music and theater departments at Oswego High School. The details are still being finalized.
As news of Kyle's death filtered back to his hometown, the family he left behind wishes he could see the outpouring of love and support.
"I think he would be pretty overwhelmed by it, I really do. Even as great a kid as he is. He just doesn't realize how many lives that he's touched,” said Kyle’s dad Goerge Rookey.
Among them, 16-year-old David Wallace, who spoke with his big brother two weeks ago. They were planning a special day together soon, when Kyle returned. With his chance to say goodbye lost, David hopes his brother's death will remind other families of an important lesson.
"Say what's on your mind at the time and [don’t] wait another day,” Kyle’s brother David Wallace said. “I wish that I could wake up and see him one more time at least."
Specialist Kyle Rookey leaves behind the wife he married in December, Victoria; their 11-month old child, Flora; two sisters, Angela, 15, and Elizabeth Rookey, 13; his younger brother David Wallace; his parents Carol Sue Akers and George Rookey and his grandparents.