Aloha, Airman – Yokota AB, Hawaii loses one of its ohana
MILILANI, Hawaii -- It seemed like just another perfect day in Hawaii - sunny and bright, the temperature a refreshing 79-degrees. The ocean breeze delivered the pleasant aroma of plumerias to those who drive with the windows down as they traverse the winding roads of H2 heading northbound.
However, this was not a normal Hawaiian day. The drive, and all the sights which accompanied it, was leading to something far from perfect - a funeral at Mililani Memorial Park. The drive served as a bittersweet reminder that even with all the beauty surrounding those fortunate enough to live in the land of Aloha, there can be tragedy.
Memorial services were held Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2016, at Mililani Mortuary Mauka Chapel, celebrating the life of Senior Airman Jeremy M. Jutba-Hake.
Jutba-Hake, 22, of Waianae Hawaii, graduated from Kapolei High School in 2011, and joined the Air Force later that year in December. He is survived by his parents, Jonathan and Eva Hake of Kapolei, Hawaii.
Senior Airman Jutba-Hake served as a C-130H instructor loadmaster and was stationed with 36th Airlift Squadron, Yokota Air Base, Japan, since November 2013.
Jeremy collapsed during post-flight duties following a training mission at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam. Jutba-Hake was on TDY with members of the 374th Airlift Wing to participate in the annual Operation Christmas Drop, where donated supplies were delivered to island villages and atolls scattered throughout Micronesia.
"This is a tragic and sad time for Team Yokota and Team Andersen -- we lost a true warrior, a wingman and our friend," Col. Douglas C. DeLaMater, 374th Airlift Wing commander, said in a statement. "Our heartfelt condolences and deepest sympathies are with Jeremy's family, friends and loved ones during this time of need. We share in your sorrow with love, friendship and support."
Friendship and support was apparent at Jeremy's service, as waves of blue-clad Airmen intertwined with the bright colors of local-Hawaiian attire. Worlds (and cultures) seemed to collide during his burial, with some individuals mourning the loss, while others sung songs of joy, celebrating his life and spirit.
However, sounds of distress quickly dissipated as his friends and family laid flowers upon his casket, saying their final goodbyes and conversing with each other about how they knew Jeremy, and how he affected their lives.
"We are very proud of our son and his career choice to serve in the United States Air Force," said Jeremy's father, Chief Master Sgt. (Ret.) Jonathan Hake. "Jeremy was well known among his crew as someone who could light up a room with his positive attitude and his contagious smile. He loved being an instructor loadmaster as well as a loyal friend."
Jeremy's body is buried, but his spirit is not. In lieu of flowers at his service, his parents asked for his friends and family to donate to Operation Christmas Drop. According to his parents, Jeremy always shared his aloha spirit, and providing to those in need, does just that.
Driving back through the hills which brought visitors to the Mililani Memorial Park evoked a sense of calm, and the smell of plumerias returned. This time, however, they were far from bittersweet. The scent and colors were more vivid than ever. Maybe it's Jeremy saying one more goodbye to his friends and family. Maybe it's just the acceptance of his passing.
Either way, Senior Airman Jeremy M. Jutba-Hake made an impact on his friends, his family and his peers. Jeremy was a great friend to many, a loving son to his parents, and a fellow wingman to us all.