Fallen MacDill hero remembered

- On paper, Lt. Joseph Helton looked like the perfect leader.  And in person, friends and family say he went above and beyond that.

The Air Force Academy grad was just 24 years old when he volunteered to leave MacDill Air Force Base  and go to Iraq.  And after his six-month tour was up, the flight commander offered to stay when his unit needed him.

On September 8, 2009, the vehicle he was in struck a roadside bomb, costing him his life.

Today, a statue of Lt. Helton was unveiled outside of MacDill's Security Forces Squadron building.  The names of MacDill's 14 fallen security forces airmen who have died since September 11th are engraved on the pedestal of the statue. 

Lt. Helton's mom says it's important that all their stories are told.

"At events like this, when I see people that he served with, people that he went to school with, how they have moved on with their lives -- gotten married, had kids, gotten promoted -- all those things that we didn't get the chance to celebrate with him, it's important to me and the other gold star families to know their sons' and daughters names will always be here for people to see, even when we're long gone," Jiffy Helton Sarver offered.

The names of Lt. Helton's fellow fallen heroes are on the front of the statue; his story is on the back.

The money needed for that statue was raised through private donations.

Up Next:

Up Next

  • Fallen MacDill hero remembered
  • Bay Area girl heads to DC to lobby for type 1 diabetes research
  • Pinellas County begins tracking of Black Skimmers
  • 2017 could break alligator attack record in FL
  • Carlie Brucia's killer to be resentenced
  • WATCH: Alligator crosses busy roadway in Lakeland
  • Avon Park triple shooting leaves one teenager dead
  • Thousands of dollars worth of drugs and weapons seized
  • Unstable Pasco sinkhole delays clean-up efforts
  • Venice man arrested after pointing gun at another driver