Date of Death
April 29, 2013
Place of Death
Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan
Honor our Hometown Hero Event
Aimee Robbins-Mastny, owner of LA’s Coffee Café, Three Rivers, is organizing an event celebrating Brokaw’s life for his many friends and family in the local area. The event is scheduled for Saturday, August 17 at the home where he was raised, Terry & Susie Brokaw’s home, 17021 Cotherman Lake Rd in Three Rivers, MI. The home is on a private airstrip where Brokaw flew the family aircraft, a 1956 Cessna 172, whenever he visited.
The event will begin at 4:00 pm. At 5:13 pm, reflections of Brokaw’s life, video tribute, and a military salute will take place. Guests can share their stories of Brokaw at this special tribute.
Refreshments, airplane rides (weather permitting), tree planting ceremony, sky lantern tribute to the 7 crew members and a bonfire are planned.
Jamie Lee Brokaw, 33, Three Rivers native, died in an airplane accident on April 29 at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, while operating a Boeing 747-400 owned by National Air Cargo on a civilian commercial cargo flight.
Brokaw, born and raised in Three Rivers, played clarinet and saxophone in Three Rivers High School Band, was an active band member and graduated from TRHS in 1998. During high school, Brokaw worked on the flight line at the Three Rivers airport.
He was inspired by his grandfather, Sgt. Joseph Brokaw, a B-17 Flying Fortress gunner in WW II and his father, Terry Brokaw also a General Aviation and commercial pilot. Brokaw’s father and brother, Randy, (also a First Officer flying 747 cargo aircraft), all worked on planes together at and flew together at National Airlines where they were all employed. Brokaw and his father or brother would meet up for lunch in Belgium or dinner in Dubai as their flight paths crossed through the world.
Brokaw’s quest for adventure took him all over the world, by air, land and sea. At the age of 15, Brokaw took off to see the world, and found himself in Chicken, Alaska. Brokaw spent two summers in Chicken, working, flying and living the Alaskan dream of life in a frontier town along with his cousin and friend, Nate Lett. In keeping with his love for the open road, he drove his motorcycle to Alaska from Michigan in 2001. He rode motorcycles and taught motorcycle safety while in the Air Force.
Brokaw enlisted in the United States Air Force in January of 2002 and deployed multiple times in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. He was stationed at Dyess Air Force base, assigned to Air Combat Command’s, Twelfth Air Force, 7th Bomb Wing, 7th Maintenance Group, 7th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron where Brokaw was recognized for his work on the B-1 Lancer bomber as an Integrated Avionics Systems Craftsman for Instruments and Flight Controls. This unit shared the same historical origins as the unit in which Brokaw’s grandfather served in WWII. Brokaw served in the Air Force for six years before separating as a Staff Sergeant.
Always striving to advance his aviation career, Brokaw began his flight training in Spring 2008, completing his training in Fall of 2008. Brokaw earned his private pilot’s license, instrument rating, commercial pilot certificate, multi-engine rating, Certified Flight Instructor for single and multi-engine aircraft, ground instructor at ATP Flight School in Jacksonville, FL. He attended Baker’s School of Aeronautics where he received a FAA certification as an A&P mechanic in 2009.
Brokaw had his first job in commercial aviation with Murray Air (now National Airlines) as a Flight Engineer on a DC-8 in 2009. In 2010, Brokaw upgraded to First Officer flying “right seat” in the DC-8. In May 2012, Brokaw was trained to fly the 747 cargo aircraft. At the time of his final flight, Brokaw was a First Officer for National Airlines and a member of the Civil Air Patrol.
In 2009, Brokaw met Elizabeth Thoma, originally of Monroe, Michigan. Thoma and her 9 year old daughter, Chloe, shared Brokaw’s adventuresome spirit and love of the sky. Brokaw and Thoma married on May 12, 2012 at the Yankee Air Museum at Willow Run Airport in front of a B-52 Bomber. They moved to Monroe near the south end of Custer Airport, where the entire family enjoyed watching and listening to airplanes flying overhead.
Brokaw, with his father, Terry and brother, Randy, had an aircraft salvage business, South Michigan Aviation, buying damaged aircraft and “parting” it out.
Due to the value Brokaw placed on education and his love for Chloe as a step-daughter, a fund has been established for Chloe’s college education. The Brokaw/Thoma family is asking that friends consider giving to this education fund. Information can be found at www.jamieloveschloe.com
In addition to his wife, Elizabeth (Thoma) Brokaw and step-daughter, Chloe Hunter, Jamie is survived by his parents Susan and Terry Brokaw of Three Rivers, Michigan and his brothers Randy and Corey Brokaw of Kalamazoo. He also leaves behind a tight-knit group of relatives, cousins, friends, fellow pilots, airplane co-owners, air force buddies and his ever dedicated canine co-pilot, Buster.
Event information is posted at https://www.facebook.com/events/424369331011915/