Remember Kevin Wayne Yokum
On one bright morning in September 2001, Kevin Wayne Yokum and 183 other innocent people were murdered at the Pentagon in Washington DC. Five Islamic terrorists hijacked American Airlines Flight 77 on 11 September 2001 less than 35 minutes into the flight, with 64 passengers aboard. The flight left Reagan National Airport bound for Los Angeles, but after being hijacked, it turned around and crashed into the western side of the Pentagon at approximately 09:37 a.m. EDT. All 64 people on board the aircraft and 125 in the building were killed, including the five hijackers (whom I have not counted among the "innocents"above).
Kevin was 27 years old. His hometown was Lake Charles, Louisiana, but he had moved to Maryland after being assigned to the Pentagon. He was an Information Systems Technician Second Class (IT2), in the U.S. Navy.
Kevin grew up with one brother and two sisters in Lake Charles, Louisiana, 40 miles from the Gulf of Mexico and 50 miles from the Texas border. His brother, two years older, had joined the Army. After Kevin graduated from high school, he decided to become a Navy man.
Yokum traveled extensively on Navy ships -- Hawaii, Africa, South America -- according to his father, Allan L. Yokum. He had been based in San Diego, and was transferred to the Pentagon a few years prior to 9/11.
His sister, Trudie Ceasar, said Kevin came from a military family. He was a radio communications specialist. "The Navy is what he always wanted," she said. The two spoke by phone every Sunday in the years leading up to the tragedy. "Kevin was a fun-loving, silly guy," Ceasar said. "He was the life of every party."
According to an article by the US Dept. of Defense, his death came as a shock to Karen Saunders...
"Oh, my God, I didn't know that Kevin got killed!" Saunders exclaimed. Standing in a group of women looking at the large bulletin board full of pictures of people who died in the Pentagon terrorist attack [on] September 11, Saunders had come across the tribute to Navy Petty Officer 2nd class Kevin Wayne Yokum, a naval information systems technician.
Defense Department officials erected the three large bulletin boards around the Pentagon's River Parade Field, site of an October 11 "United in Memory" ceremony. Photographs and biographical sketches of those killed graced the exhibit.
"It just shocked me to see Kevin's picture on the board," Saunders said. "He worked on the fourth floor between Corridors 4 and 5 in the A Ring. He worked one floor under me, almost in the same position. I've been trying to figure out why, if he was in his office, he didn't make it out like we did. He must have been walking around on that side of the building. I can't think of any other way he would have gotten killed."
--Rudi Williams, Bulletin Board of Losses Tells Who They Were, What They Did, 12 October 2001
Perhaps Kevin was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. Following the attacks of 9/11, IS2 Kevin Wayne Yokum was officially listed by the U.S. Navy as missing and presumed dead.
According to his U.S. Navy biographical information, Kevin enlisted in Houston, Texas, on 6 April 1992. His rank, effective 16 December 1997, was Information Systems Technician Second Class Petty Officer. He was 27 year old. His duty stations included:
Recruit Training Command, San Diego, CA -- 04/1992-06/1992
Service Schools Command, San Diego, CA -- 06/1992-09/1992
The USS Horne (CG 30) -- 10/1992-02/1994
The USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) 03/1994-10/1997
Chief of Naval Operations Telecommunications Center 10/1997-09/2001
Yokum when he served on the USS Horne
Awards and Decorations: Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon, Southwest Asia Service Medal (2), Joint Meritorious Unit Award, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Kuwait Liberation Medal, Good Conduct Medal, Coast Guard Meritorious Team Commendation.
Alan Ladd Yokum and his wife Beulah, held funeral services for their son, U.S. Navy Officer Kevin Wayne Yokum, at the First Community Baptist Church in Lake Charles, LA on 29 September 2001.
You were probably the nicest person I've met during my lifetime. You were never in conflict with anyone, and you were a very good listener. You were the kind of person that a lot of these youngsters could use as a role model. --Jerry Wilson (Class of '91), 23 January 2009
I grew up with Kevin in Lake Charles, Louisiana. We went to church together and sang in the choir. Kevin was a sweet and gentle soul. He always made everyone laugh. He made the bass in the choir really step it up. He had the most wonderful smile with dimples that showed he was definitely his mother's son, and his stature showed his father in him. --Natalie Chatman Hamilton, 30 July 2009
Kevin was the nicest person, a good cook, a comedian (in his own way), and friend to everyone. --Kema Moore, 10 September 2009