An Army National Guardsman was laid to rest Saturday with full military honors. The Oklahoman died in a multi-car traffic accident. Although he didn't die on the battlefield, friends and family say James Ishmael-Wolford gave his life for his country.
News on 6 reporter Ashli Sims says a solemn farewell for a man, who some say embodied the spirit of the military.
Rev Kevin Taylor with the Collinsville 1st Baptist Church: "he was a patriot and he was honored to serve his country." 11-year military veteran James Ishmael-Wolford was remembered in Collinsville for his strength and character. But he was more than just a patriot; he was also a loving family man, father to two young sons.
SSgt Jasmine Carter, OK Army National Guard: "He was a very confident and personable type man. He knew what he wanted and what it took to get things done." Wolford was on his way back from the Army National Guard base in Tulsa, when he was involved in a three-car accident. He was thrown from his vehicle and suffered a skull fracture, broke his neck, leg, several ribs and dislocated his shoulder and hip. He hung on for several weeks, but he died after one of his kidneys stopped functioning.
SSgt Jasmine Carter, OK Army National Guard: "It took everybody by surprise." Family and friends say Wolford died doing exactly what he wanted to do. He had just completed flight school, where he trained as a pilot for Black Hawk helicopters.
SSgt Jasmine Carter, OK Army National Guard: "That was the only thing he wanted to do whatever it took to make sure he was making a difference."
The rumble of the Black Hawk helicopters could be heard for miles, but this time, they were flying for James. While they faded into the distance, it's clear the memory of James Ishmael Wolford won't soon disappear.
In his eleven years in the military, James was honored several times with medals for achievement. He served in the Army National Guard, the Air Force Guard Reserves. He was a veteran of the first Gulf War.