PALMER (KTUU) - For Anngel Norkist it doesn’t get any easier but just the thought of her son still brings her so much joy.
“Yeah, he was definitely a character, a one of a kind,” Norkist said of her son, Private First Class Hansen Kirkpatrick.
Only July 3rd, Kirkpatrick was on a mission in Afghanistan when he was killed after an attack by the Taliban.
He was only 19-years-old.
Now his picture hangs around his mother’s neck with his rank, where he served and the date he was killed in action.
“[it has] One of the selfies he took while he climbed a mountain in Afghanistan, he got to the top and took a selfie with a big old smile,” said Norkist. “It’s one of our favorite photos of him.”
At its annual Veterans Day ceremony, Mat-Su College honored Kirkpatrick and his family for his service.
After the folding of the flag, it was presented to the late soldier's family, a family with deep military roots as Kirkpatrick’s father, a veteran himself, served multiple deployments.
“This isn’t’ about memorializing Hansen as much as it is that every single veteran that we have in the country was willing to make this exact same sacrifice and we want to honor them for putting their lives on the line for our freedom,” said Will Newnham, Kirkpatrick’s father. “Just like I did, just like my son did and he ultimately paid the price.”
Since Kirkpatrick’s death another Alaskan lost his life in the line of duty. On October 27th, 36 year old Chief Warrant Officer Jacob Michael Sims from Juneau was killed in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan.
Since 2005, 24 service members who called Alaska home have died on the battlefields in both Iraq and Afghanistan.