CPT Marcus Alford

CPT Marcus Alford

“He was a hero and he made the ultimate sacrifice for his country.”Karen Ray, mother


KNOXVILLE – Tennessee National Guard Capt. Marcus Ray Alford Sr., who was killed Feb. 21 in a helicopter crash in Iraq, died doing what he loved, his mother said.

“He was a hero and he made the ultimate sacrifice for his country,” Karen Ray said.

Hundreds showed up for a celebration of life this morning at Chilhowee Hills Baptist Church, which was followed by an interment service, complete with full military honors, at Tennessee Veterans Cemetery.

Knox County schools are flying their flags at half-staff today in honor of Alford, a South-Doyle High school graduate.

The school system received permission today from Tennessee Deputy Gov. John Morgan to fly school flags at half-staff, district spokeswoman Melissa Copelan said.

Alford was also a Carson-Newman College graduate.

He and Chief Warrant Officer 2 Billie Jean Grinder, 25, of Gallatin, Tenn., were killed when their helicopter crashed near Mosul, Iraq.

They were piloting an OH-58D chopper when it crashed in the Ninewa province. They were members of the 1st Squadron of the Tennessee National Guard’s 230th Air Cavalry Squadron.

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