Jamie Lee Brokaw, 33, died April 29, 2013 in an airplane accident at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, while operating a Boeing 747-400 owned by National Air Cargo on a civilian commercial flight. Born March 13, 1980, Jamie’s interest in aviation began as a baby where flying was a way of life. He was inspired by his grandfather, Sgt. Joseph Brokaw, a B-17 Flying Fortress gunner in WWII, and his father, Terry Brokaw, also a General Aviation and commercial pilot. Jamie’s father and brother, Randy, all worked on planes together and eventually flew together at National Airlines where they were all employed. Jamie and his father or brother would meet up for lunch in Belgium or dinner in Dubai as their flight paths crossed.
Jamie 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 Jamie 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 Jamie’s grandfather served in WWII. Jamie served in the Air Force for six years before separating as a Staff Sergeant.
Always striving to advance his aviation career, Jamie began his flight training in Spring 2008, completing his training in Fall of 2008 and took his first job in commercial aviation for Murray Air (now National) as a Flight Engineer on a DC-8, in 2009 and upgraded to First Officer in 2010.
Jamie 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 and A&P mechanic, and holds a motorboat operator’s permit. He rode motorcycles and taught motorcycle safety while in the Air Force. At the time of his final flight, Jamie was a First Officer for National Airlines and a member of the Civil Air Patrol.
Jamie’s quest for adventure took him all over the world, by air, land and sea. At the age of 15, Jamie took off to see the world, and found himself in Chicken, Alaska. Jamie 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 even drove his motorcycle to Alaska from Michigan in 2001. Jamie’s brothers and cousin were some of his closest friends. They shared military and flying adventures and made fun times out of just about everything.
In 2009, Jamie met Elizabeth Thoma, originally of Monroe. Elizabeth and her nine-year-old daughter, Chloe, shared Jamie’s adventuresome spirit and love of the sky. Jamie and Elizabeth married on May 12, 2012 at the Aviation Heritage 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.
Due to the value Jamie 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 in lieu of flowers, 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, and his brothers, Randy and Corey Brokaw of Kalamazoo. He also leaves behind a tight-knight group of relatives, cousins, friends, fellow pilots, airplane co-owners, Air Force buddies and his ever-dedicated canine co-pilot, Buster.
An event to celebrate the spirit of the way Jamie lived his life is scheduled for Sunday, May 12, at 3:13 p.m. at the Custer Airport Hangar in Monroe. Doors will open at 2 p.m. for visiting with friends. Arrangements are being made by Rupp Funeral Home in Monroe.
Online condolences may be made through www.ruppfuneralhomeinc.com.