Caring, generous, protective, determined.
All these words describe Kyle Dean McKenna, a 28-year-old soldier who died alongside two fellow Army pilots in a helicopter accident near Healy, Alaska, April 27, 2023.
Chief Warrant Officer 2, Kyle McKenna was born in St. Charles, Missouri, on June 14, 1994. He spent his early years in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, with his mother, Tracy, and his younger brother, Cody. Growing up, Kyle loved sports, fishing, board games and Pokémon. Fiercely competitive and unusually honest, he always defended the underdog and stood up for what was right.
Kyle was also quite mischievous, often resulting in trouble with his mother as well as friends and relatives. It took a village to raise the rambunctious boy. To his credit, Kyle was quite protective of his family and his friends, and he never backed down from a fight if need be. While he didn’t start many, the tough young Kyle was always sure to finish them.
In 2000, Kyle and his family moved to Colorado Springs. It was there, in 2003, Tracy met Pat McKenna, a pilot and former Air Force officer, and the couple was married in 2005 at a ceremony that also included vows from Kyle and Cody.
A year later, in 2006, the newlyweds welcomed Kyle’s sister, Clare, into the world. Kyle continued to be the ideal big brother, proving an amazing protector to Clare as well as Cody. As the alpha, he did pick on them, but he always had their backs – an unbreakable love.
Together, Kyle and his family loved trips back to reunions in Oklahoma as well as Notre Dame football weekends in Indiana, plus visits to family and friends in Texas.
Pat officially adopted Kyle and Cody in 2007. Kyle was so excited to officially become a McKenna that, in his letter to the family court judge, he exclaimed, “Pat has provided me with a full family and a place I can call home…and McKenna is a wicked awesome last name.”
Kyle attended Edith Wolford Elementary and Challenger Middle School. He loved to read, sometimes getting into trouble during math classes for trying to read on the down low.
Kyle attended St. Mary’s Catholic School and Pine Creek High School. In 2010, he led St. Mary’s to its first and only Colorado state soccer championship. He and his Pride club soccer team would win another state title the following year.
He then attended Colorado State University-Pueblo on a soccer scholarship, playing two seasons for the ThunderWolves. Kyle then switched his focus to the military, earning a four-year Army ROTC scholarship.
It was during his time in Pueblo that Kyle met Ashlyn Bleimeyer, his true love and soulmate. He also found his sidekick and best buddy, a trusty German Shepherd named Odin.
Kyle graduated with honors from CSU-Pueblo in May 2018, with both a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in business. He commissioned the same day into the Army as a second lieutenant, sworn in by his father, Pat, who served 13 years as an Air Force pilot prior.
With his father as inspiration, Kyle also longed to be a pilot, specifically flying AH-64 Apache helicopters, but he did not receive a slot to flight school. However, Kyle would not let that initial setback deter his dream.
Second Lieutenant McKenna was sent to Fort Lee, Virginia, graduating from Army Ordnance School in 2019. From there, he was assigned to Fort Bragg, North Carolina, where he served as a platoon leader and commander’s executive officer.
In 2020, First Lieutenant McKenna deployed to Jordan and Saudi Arabia in support of Operation Spartan Shield. While deployed to the Middle East, Kyle and Ashlyn’s relationship truly blossomed, and they began planning a life together.
After a nearly three-year quest to secure a flight school slot, Kyle finally succeeded. In 2021, now-Warrant Officer McKenna attended helicopter flight training at Fort Rucker, Alabama. He let everyone there know from the outset that he intended to earn the right to fly Apaches.
Right before graduation on “assignment night,” as Kyle walked across the stage and a picture of an Apache appeared on the video screen revealing his future, the auditorium erupted in cheers knowing the young soldier’s dream had come to be. In his mind, there was never a doubt – all the hard work, grit and determination had paid off.
Amidst the Top Gun atmosphere at flight school, on May 4, 2022, Kyle and Ashlyn quietly exchanged vows in Alabama, with plans for a big wedding in front of family and friends after they moved to their first flying assignment.
Kyle and Ashlyn headed to Fort Wainwright in Fairbanks, Alaska, in late 2022. It was a dream assignment for Kyle, who loved the outdoors, and he put his rifle, bow, and fly rod to good use. Meanwhile, plans continued for Ashlyn and Kyle’s big wedding ceremony on August 26, 2023, in Fairbanks.
On April 27, 2023, Chief Warrant Officer Two Kyle “Sausage” McKenna tragically passed away returning from a military training exercise, doing what he worked so hard to achieve, serving a nation he so dearly loved.
Kyle leaves behind a plethora of people who loved and cherished him. They include his wife, Ashlyn; his German Shepherd, Odin; mother, Tracy; father, Pat; brother, Cody; sister, Clare; grandparents, Gary and Hilma Sanders; grandparents, Jerry and Gail McKenna; grandmother, Stephanie Levine; aunts and uncles, Jenny and Steve Beatie; Fred Sanchez; Mike and Paula McKenna; Sean and Cláudia McKenna; Dan and Theresa McKenna; and Colleen McKenna. Also, his cousins, Alex, Nick and Olivia Sanchez; Bret, Cole and Trey Beatie; Devin, Ryan, Kevin, Carter, Kiera, Heather, Christopher and Eric McKenna; Lisa and George Jr; Ashlyn’s parents, Jen and Mike Severinson; Pete and Wendy Bleimeyer.
Kyle is leaving behind so many amazing friends. Too many to individually mention…but you know.
He is preceded in passing by his beloved aunt, Heidi Sanchez.
A Visitation will be held from 5:00-8:00PM, Friday, May 19, 2023 at Shrine of Remembrance “America the Beautiful” Chapel, 1730 East Fountain Boulevard, Colorado Springs, Colorado 80910.
A Funeral Service in honor of Kyle will be held at 2:00PM, Saturday, May 20, 2023 at Family of Christ Lutheran Church, 675 Baptist Road, Colorado Springs, Colorado 80921.
In lieu of flowers, the family wishes memorial contributions be made to either/both of these amazing organizations in his name:
Ability First Sports
P.O. Box 4235
Chico, CA 95927
Ability First Sports is a wheelchair sports program designed to provide instructional & recreational sports opportunities to youth with physical disabilities. https://www.facebook.com/abilityfirstsports/
Eclipse Soccer Club, where Kyle was one of the coaches for the age groups of the 2010, 2011 and the 2008/2009 combo teams in Fairbanks, AK.