LOUISVILLE -- U.S. Army Sgt. Michael D. Acklin II was remembered Wednesday as a devoted soldier whose
dream of entering the ministry ended with his death in Iraq.
Acklin's family and friends stood and saluted his flag-draped coffin during his funeral at Christ Temple Apostolic Church
in his hometown.
"Unrealized dreams and aspirations have been dashed by this untimely death," said his pastor, Bishop Michael E. Ford Sr.
Acklin, 25, was among 17 soldiers who died this month when two Black Hawk helicopters collided in the northern Iraqi city
Military officials have not determined the cause of the crash, which was the worst single loss of American life since the
During the funeral, Acklin's parents were given the Purple Heart and Bronze Star their son was awarded posthumously. He
was their only child.
A picture of Acklin in his Army uniform was displayed next to the coffin. A collage of photos nearby traced his life from
boyhood to the Army. One photo showed Acklin with an arm around his father.
Acklin, known as "Mikie" to family and friends, was remembered for his "quiet peace," Ford said. Acklin aspired to attend
bible college after the Army, Ford said, and the young sergeant "fought the good fight of a soldier and he fought the good
fight of faith."
"Michael, for your ultimate sacrifice, we are a grateful church, we are a grateful city and we are a grateful nation,"
"So we pause to salute your life and your sacrifice and to bid you farewell, as we know you are in the very presence of
Acklin was a member of the 101st Airborne Division based at Fort Campbell. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 320th
His pastor while at Fort Campbell, the Rev. Frederick Irwin of New Testament Christian Church in Hopkinsville, remembered
Acklin for his "big heart" and for his strong character, devotion and loyalty.
U.S. Rep. Anne Northup, who attended the funeral, said Acklin was "a gift to his community and to this country."
"He has proven that the greatest generation isn't in the past, but they live among us today, and they inspire us every
day," she said.
State Rep. Reginald Meeks of Louisville also attended the funeral.
Retired Army Lt. Col. Charles Mitchell said that Acklin, his cousin, "epitomized selfless service." He said his cousin
was a good soldier who also was part of "God's army."
Acklin continued a family tradition by joining the military. His great-grandfather served in World War II and his grandfather
in the Korean War, Mitchell said.
Ford, an Army veteran who served in Vietnam, called war the "least effective option available to man," and said it should
be reserved as a last option. Yet, he said, the United States cannot be passive when threatened by terrorism.
"There has to be a response to evil," Ford said. "Now you may not agree with the response that our commander in chief has
taken, and you have a perfect right to your opinion, and we soldiers will fight for your right to disagree with us, but evil
has to be confronted."
Acklin was buried in Zachary Taylor National Cemetery in Louisville.