Senators take a moment of silence at the Capitol on Monday, Jan, 29, 2018, in memory of three Alaskan servicemen killed in action. The senate voted in favor of Senate Concurrent Resolution 14 to award the Alaska Decoration of Honor to David T. Brabander, Hansen B. Kirkpatrick and Jacob M. Sims. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Senators take a moment of silence at the Capitol on Monday, Jan, 29, 2018, in memory of three Alaskan servicemen killed in action. The senate voted in favor of Senate Concurrent Resolution 14 to award the Alaska Decoration of Honor to David T. Brabander, Hansen B. Kirkpatrick and Jacob M. Sims. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Senate votes to award medals to three slain Alaska soldiers

The families of two men from Wasilla and one man from Skagway will receive medals awarded by the State of Alaska for military service.

In an 18-0 vote Monday, the Alaska Senate approved the Alaska Decoration of Honor for three American soldiers with Alaska roots. All three were killed in 2017.

The three are Jacob Sims, formerly of Skagway, and Hansen Kirkpatrick and David Brabander.

Senate Concurrent Resolution 14 now goes to the House, where it is expected to pass by a wide margin, if not unanimously.

The Decoration of Honor was created under 2007 legislation and calls for a medal to be awarded to the families of soldiers who have been killed in combat. The person must be someone who was a legal resident of the state or stationed in the state.

Sen. Mia Costello, R-Anchorage, spoke on the floor in support of the resolution awarding the medal and said 241 Alaskans have received the medal. (Every Alaskan killed in combat since statehood became eligible when it was created.)

The medal was designed by Alaska artist Jon Van Zyle and features an eagle with outstretched wings above a field of Forget-Me-Nots and a sky filled with the northern lights. The circular medal is topped with a large star, signifying Polaris.

Costello said physical medals will be struck for each family once the Legislature finishes the authorization process.

Chief Warrant Officer Jacob Sims was killed by a helicopter crash in Afghanistan on Oct. 28. Sims, who was living in Oklahoma, was raised in Skagway and joined the military as a combat engineer. He ultimately switched careers and became a helicopter pilot. He served multiple tours of duty in Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan.

The other two recipients of the medal are Hansen Kirkpatrick and David Brabander, both of Wasilla.

Kirkpatrick was a 19-year-old private and mortarman stationed at Fort Bliss in Texas. Deployed to Helmand Province, Afghanistan, he was killed July 3 in what the military described as an indirect fire attack.

He graduated from Service High School and married his high school sweetheart in a ceremony on Dec. 30, 2016. He had been scheduled to return home Oct. 5, according to his obituary.

Brabander was a 24-year-old squad leader at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson. Deployed to Afghanistan in September, he was killed Dec. 11 in that country’s Nangahar Province when his vehicle overturned in a combat zone.


• Contact reporter James Brooks at james.k.brooks@juneauempire.com or call 523-2258.


Sen. Anna MacKinnon, R-Eagle River, and Sen. Lyman Hoffman, D-Bethel, speak to Floyd Dryden Middle School eighth grade students just before a floor session at the Capitol on Monday, Jan. 29, 2018. The League of Women Voters of Juneau and The Alaska Committee are sponsoring a program to bring all of Juneau’s 400 eighth grade students to the Capitol for an introduction to the executive, legislative and judicial branches. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Sen. Anna MacKinnon, R-Eagle River, and Sen. Lyman Hoffman, D-Bethel, speak to Floyd Dryden Middle School eighth grade students just before a floor session at the Capitol on Monday, Jan. 29, 2018. The League of Women Voters of Juneau and The Alaska Committee are sponsoring a program to bring all of Juneau’s 400 eighth grade students to the Capitol for an introduction to the executive, legislative and judicial branches. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

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