ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - To find the memorial honoring students who were killed in battle, walk past the windows of Service High School with the reflections of the Chugach Mountains. Then look for three flagpoles. Between the poles is a stone with three names on golden colored plaques. Previously, there were only two names listed. But on Oct. 10, a new name was added: Private First Class Hansen Kirkpatrick.
The Wasilla resident and graduate of Service High School was killed in the Helmand Province of Afghanistan on July 3, 2017, according to U.S. Army officials. They say the Taliban launched an indirect fire attack which sent either a mortar, or rocket, into the building that Kirkpatrick was in.
Tuesday morning, under cloudy skies, a group of Kirkpatrick's family and teachers revealed the new plaque, as they honored the young man who would have turned 20 on this day. Kirkpatrick's 14 year-old brother, a Junior ROTC cadet, was part of the ceremony.
"I'm glad to do this, but I'd rather this not have happened at all," Hart Norkist said.
Kirkpatrick graduated a year early from Service. Teachers say he had dreams of going to college on the East Coast, backpacking through Europe and becoming a hedge fund manager or stockbroker.
"This war's been going on for so long, it's become a blurb in the background," said Anngel Norkist, Kirkpatrick's mother. "All of these kids have grown-up with nothing but knowing only war, and so it hasn't become something big to them – I don't think – unless it's personally touched their family. I'm hoping that at least a few of them will stop, pause, you know, think about it. This was one of their own."
The Service flag was lowered to half staff on Tuesday, and will be lowered on every Oct. 10 from now on.
Oct. 10, 2017, would have also been Kirkpatrick's 20th birthday.