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6A 11 killed in

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7 Marines, 4 Soldiers perish in helicopter crash

In remembrance Staff Sgt.

Marcus S. Bawol 27, Warren, Mich.

Staff Sgt.

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Trevor P. Blaylock

Staff Sgt.

Chief Warrant Officer

40, Hammond, La.

29, Lake Orion, Mich.

Liam Flynn

Staff Sgt.

Master Sgt.

Staff Sgt.

Kerry Michael Kemp

Thomas A. Saunders

Andrew Seif


Chief Warrant Officer

27, Port Washington, Wisc.

7502 Harvest Village Ct. Navarre, FL 32566

Staff Sgt.

Lance Bergeron

Thomas Florich 26, Baton Rouge

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Staff Sgt.

33, Queens, N.Y.

33, Williamsburg, Va.

Stanford Henry Shaw, III 31, Basking Ridge, N.J.

George Wayne Griffin 37, Hammond, La.

26, Holland, Mich.

George David Strother 44, Alexandria, La.

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NAVARRE PRESS Volume XV • Issue 43

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Guest Opinion

Gratitude for those who serve To Contact Us: Navarre Press 7502 Harvest Village Court Navarre, FL 32566 Phone: (850) 939-8040 Fax: (850) 939-4575 Web: www.navarrepress.com E-mail: news@navarrepress.com

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Senior Sports Writer

“Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying,“Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said,“Here I am. Send me!” Isaiah 6:8


hen I heard the news early Wednesday morning of the UH-60 crashing into the Sound, I immediately thought of the families and I thought,“From this moment on, their lives will never be the same – Lord, be with them.”LCDR Mark Johnson, Lt. Bante, Lt. Roberto, Petty Officer Sean Saye, Petty Officer Wicks, ENS. Winters and LCDR O’Connor were my next thoughts; men who my husband and I knew, and so many others we knew who had died in service. Then I heard the words,“They gave their lives…”reverberating across the airwaves and the Internet. But think again, for they did not give their lives. Those 11 men did not board the UH-60 Tuesday evening with the intent to crash into the Sound; they chose to give their lives to the service of others. They chose to stand and say,“Here I am. Send me!” They served their country, the United States of America – that is the big picture. The smaller picture that so few see are the loved ones they served; they served their fathers, mothers, wives, children, fiancés; they chose to serve and in so doing, 99.3 percent of Americans do not have to. After elected officials bow their heads in public for a moment of silence; after the memorials in Navarre are no more and the candles extinguished; after the remaining two men and the last pieces of the UH-60 wreckage are retrieved; after the flag-draped coffins holding the once lively men are buried, what will remain is only the memory. And in time, their names will be all but forgotten in the annals of history. But because we live in a country that embodies the

John Richardson sports@navarrepress.com

Writers Romi White Shana Roberson Bobby and Nancy Spottswood news@navarrepress.com

Bookkeeper Laura Baldridge accounts@navarrepress.com

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principles of individual freedom with the knowledge that those freedoms are worth serving for, more men and women will stand, raise their right hands and promise to defend this country, those freedoms and the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic. As such, there will be more who climb into an aircraft to train for missions no one but them will know about; there will be more who don the uniform, throw the sea bag over their shoulders and wave goodbye to loved ones on the pier; there will be those who will, with loaded weapon in hand, charge into battle; and there will be those who, through their service, make the ultimate sacrifice. Service is not proud, it does not boast; it goes beyond a few public moments of silence – it is humble and it perseveres through peace, through war, through good, through bad. To the men and women, and the families they leave behind, I extend my humblest gratitude. To the men and women who make it home, whole or in part, I thank you. To all those who have served and continue to serve so others can choose not to, thank you. In remembrance of Staff Sgt. Marcus Bawol; Staff Sgt. Lance Bergeron; Staff Sgt. Trevor Blaylock; Thomas Charles“TC”Florich; Staff Sgt. Liam Flynn; Chief Warrant Officer 4 George Wayne Griffin; Staff Sgt. Kerry Michael Kemp; Staff Sgt. Andrew Seif; Chief Warrant Officer 4 George David Strother; Master Sgt. Thomas Saunders; and Capt. Stanford Henry Shaw III Yvonne C. Harper, Navarre

Letter to the Editor Toll increase a mistake

Pilot was an ‘outstanding’ man

To the Editor:

To the Editor:

As a resident of Navarre, I knew there were many great people who lived and worked here. What I could not know was just how generous and magnanimous this community is. By now, everyone is aware of the loss of 11 brave service members when their Black Hawk crashed in the Sound between Navarre and Eglin Air Force Base. What you may not be aware of is the generosity of the residents and businesses of this great community. From the early morning hours of the initial recovery response, to the last hour when operations were ceased in Navarre, water, food and requests on how people could help were constant. Restaurants offered and cooked numerous meals for 50-plus people without allowing payment, while others sent dozens of meals with letters of condolences and encouragement. Local businesses sent cases of water, refreshments and additional messages telling us to ask for anything we needed. Last, but not least, were the residents of Navarre. Person after person arrived over the days and nights with all they could carry. Some purchased meals while others made food from scratch. One donation stood out to me as a young Marine walked up with boxes of pizza in hand. With his head down, he offered the pizzas and thanks for what we were doing for his military brothers. I could talk for hours citing the words and actions that will remain forever in my heart. Residents and businesses of Navarre, I salute you for showing the world why Navarre is such a great community! Thank you and God Bless!

If history is any indication, the Santa Rosa Bay Bridge Authority (SRBBA) and the Garcon Point Bridge toll increase to $5 will not be a viable or profitable solution to a very complicated partnership. A partnership between the bond-holders, the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), and the individual bridge users. Just who in their right mind wants to or can even afford to pay a toll this high? Yes, it is complicated and I’m not privy to all the historical data or even what bond-holders are currently receiving in interest; however, I do own a successful business in Santa Rosa County. As with any bad business decisions where income is not sustaining the business, an organized default or reorganization needs to occur. Current debt has now reached $134 million on this bridge and raising the toll to $5 is going to cause more citizens not to use this bridge. Unfortunately, being privately owned, not much can be done until bondholders believe that they are about to lose not only interest on their principle, but principle as well. I would ask the governor for permission to file for bankruptcy of the SRBBA and get the state more involved. Bondholders need to, for a period of time (say five to 10 years), accept an interest reduction on their principle, down to 1-2 percent. The state needs to lower the toll to $2.50 and allow for traffic and revenue to increase during this period. After such period expires, re-evaluate revenues and traffic flows. Once profitable, gradually move up the return on investment (ROI) for the bond-holders and start paying the state back. According to Doug Broxson, the FDOT as of June 30, 2013, the total owed to them and the state was $27.1 million. The FDOT pays for operations and maintenance through a lease-purchase agreement with the SRBBA. The state has a vested interest whether they want it or not. Short-term, sacrifices will have to be made, but it’s in everybody’s interest to try to make this partnership work long-term. Until then, I for one will only use this bridge in emergencies or rare situations. Good luck!

A responder

Bill Calfee, Milton

I am a first cousin of Chief Warrant Officer 4 George "David" Strother. He was one of the pilots from the Louisiana National Guard. I wanted to take time to tell you how much we appreciate your efforts in keeping everyone informed.You were considerate of the families and very respectful. Members of my family liked your page and would get frequent updates and additional information to help us start finding a way towards closure as we were processing his death. Please know we are extremely grateful. God Bless and please continue to pray for all of the families. David was an outstanding man. He was a free spirit who lived huge and loved huge. He was the celebrity of our family. He was our sunshine, our smiling, fun loving rock. Thank you. Sincerely, Kala Vercher Guidry

Community goes above and beyond To the Editor:

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Out and About By Sandi Kemp, Publisher This week has been a tough week for Navarre, Santa Rosa County, Florida and the nation. Navarre became the focal point of one of the deadliest domestic military training accidents in recent years. National news crews flew in to report to the country on the search and rescue of our finest – which quickly turned to a painful recovery. Our local first responders worked tirelessly alongside the military and multiple recovery agencies to search many miles of shoreline and water from the Okaloosa County line to shores in Midway. Our parks and businesses along the shoreline were closed and cordoned off to allow for staging areas for wreckage and command posts. The sheriff’s department kept a list of businesses and citizens who stepped up to help the first responders and included citizens Theresa Batson; Sherry Smith; Cindy Thompson; Michelle Cessett; Angie Kuaile; Cindy Blaire; and Brandon Linamen. Businesses included Navarre Wal-Mart; KFC- Navarre; Waffle House- Navarre; Navarre Helen Back Again; Military Order of the Purple Heart CH566; Johnny Huston’s Bar and Grill; Tommy’s SnoBalls, which was the location of command post; Warriors Wagon; Publix- Navarre; Beach Community Bank- Navarre; Navarre Chop House; ChickFil-A- Gulf Breeze; McDonalds- Navarre; SubwayNavarre; Zaxby’s- Fort Walton Beach; WhataburgerNavarre; Taco Bell- Navarre; Navarre First Assembly of God; Red Cross; Winn DixieNavarre; Sharkbite; and Murphy USA. More than 500 people attended the candlelight vigil at the pier Wednesday night to remember the fallen. Coastal Concessions, the management company at the Navarre Pier, knew that charging $1 to walk out on the pier would cause a bottle neck, so they decided to pick up the tab for everyone’s admission. Momentum Church staff led the event. Read the story about the vigil on our community page.The make-shift memorial on the pier with a Marine and Army flag is still there, more than a week later. A reporter from Mobile stopped me in the Winn Dixie parking lot to ask me where I was from. When I told him I was with Navarre Press he wanted to know if I was surprised that all of the media came to Navarre to report on this story. He even asked if I was surprised that news crews from as far away as North Carolina and Louisiana were in Navarre. I’m sure I rolled my eyes – on camera – and I basically let him have it. I don’t think that segment aired. I was on a dock in a stranger’s backyard along with the news crew from NBC national early Saturday morning. It was still foggy, but the fog slowly lifted for the first time since the incident. They just stared in amazement at the beauty of Navarre until one of them finally said,“This place is absolutely beautiful.”It is beautiful. I told them that this is generally what we are known for and not the tragedy of recent days. However, Navarrians always step up to the plate and help out in a time of crisis. We just went through one – and hopefully we will come out better for it on the other side. I hope the families of the fallen can one day feel like they can visit us when they are at peace and experience the Navarre we know, not the Navarre that became the place of death for their loved on that dark and foggy Tuesday night, March 10, 2015. Quote of the week: Without the brave efforts of all the soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines and their families, this nation, along with our allies around the world, would not stand so boldly, shine so brightly and live so freely. Lane Evans, U.S. House of Representatives, 1951-2014.


4A /



11 killed in helicopter crash

Photos by Sandi Kemp

A salvage barge from Resolve Marine Group, Mobile, Ala., lifts the helicopter prop from the Black Hawk that crashed March 10 in the Santa Rosa Sound, killing 11 servicemen. By Romi White and Ashley Varese romiwhite@navarrepress.com Recovery is still underway in Santa Rosa Sound following a helicopter crash that killed 11 decorated servicemen, including a recent Silver Star Medal recipient. The crash occurred March 10 when two UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters, piloted by Louisiana National Guard crews based in Hammond, La., took off from Destin Executive Airport for a routine training mission. Mike Spaits, a spokesman for Eglin Air Force Base, said the mission was located in area A-17, between Navarre and Fort Walton Beach. The units were temporarily assigned to Eglin to practice insertion and extraction techniques using helicopters and small boats. The helicopters, which each carried seven Special Operations Command Marines and four soldiers, departed between 3 and 4 p.m., according to Okaloosa County Airports Director Sunil Harman. Weather Service records indicate conditions in Navarre deteriorated quickly with visibility of 7 miles around 7 p.m., dropping to less than 2 miles just before 8 p.m. According to the Weather Service, by 9 p.m., visibility in Navarre was three-quarters of a mile. The crash occurred at around 8:30 p.m., roughly 5 miles east of the Navarre Beach Bridge. The second Black Hawk helicopter landed at Hurlburt Field instead of returning to the Destin airport,according to Louisiana National Guard spokesman Col. Pete Schneider. Immediate response Mark Giuliano, chief of Eglin Fire Emergency Services, said his team was notified of a potential downed aircraft in Santa Rosa Sound at about 10 p.m., after the Army put its protocol in place. “We have a fire station on the island, so we had assets on the scene immediately,”he said. Local departments, including Holley-Navarre Fire Rescue, Navarre Beach Fire, City of Niceville Fire Department, Midway Fire Rescue and Escambia-Santa Rosa Search and Rescue, to name a few, also responded. “It was 11:30 p.m. going on midnight and the conditions out there were very, very, very dense fog,”Giuliano said.“Boats that did get on scene could not

Kayaker finds wreckage Staff Report editor@navarrepress.com At dawn on Wednesday, March 11, an Army Master Sergeant with 7th Special Forces Group stepped out of his Navarre home, grabbed his kayak, and went to the shoreline to exercise in the calm waters of the foggy Santa Rosa Sound. What he found there shocked him. “I saw what I knew to be a door to an aircraft and I knew something terrible had happened,”said the Master Sergeant who wished to not be identified. He had not heard of the crash of a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter the night before. He got in his kayak and not far from shore, he found part of a landing gear floating in the Sound. He stepped out of the boat and pulled it to shore. No longer feeling like kayaking, he started to walk the shore line and found other items that he would not mention. Out of the fog he saw first responders and Air Force personnel walking the shoreline and he was informed of what happened. He went home, put up his kayak, and came back to the shoreline to reflect on what he felt was an alternate reality. He was stalling going into the office, because he wanted to help somehow, some way – but deep in his heart, he knew that not much could be done.

Crews examine the wreckage that washed up along the shoreline following the March 10 fatal helicopter crash. see and were traveling at less than 5 mph.They were afraid they were going to run into each other, or any other hazard out there.” Debris from the downed chopper was first discovered around 2 a.m. Teams spent the night looking for survivors, he said. “I requested Coast Guard boats with side-scan sonar,” Giuliano said.“We had very limited assets at that point …” At about 9 a.m. Wednesday, Giuliano said they received a hit from the sonar and sent divers out to the location. Once they confirmed the location, they did a side-scan sonar to map the bottom of the Sound and created a dive plan for the operation, which at that point, was still considered a search and rescue. Giuliano said the“highimpact”crash broke the heli-

copter into several pieces. At around the same time, some human remains and debris from the crash were discovered around Navarre Beach Bridge as teams in the tri-county area battled poor visibility on land and water, trying to locate survivors amid the heavy fog. No visibility "The fog has been hampering our search efforts, and more fog is continuing to roll in," Spaits said Wednesday morning. Don Shepherd, lead forecaster for the National Weather Service office based in Mobile,Ala., said it’s not unusual this time of year for heavy fog to last for days over waterways. "When you have onshore wind flow blowing warm, moist air over cold water, dense fog will persist," Shepherd said. Giuliano said the search and rescue was suspended at 6:30 p.m. “The water was almost zero visibility,”he said, adding that the crews were“struggling” under water.

Recovery effort Giuliano and Col. Monte Cannon, Eglin Air Force Base's 96thTest Wing vice commander announced the transition to a recovery effort at a press conference Thursday morning. “At this point, we’re not hopeful for survivors, and we are transitioning our search and rescue to a recovery effort,” Cannon said. A salvage barge from Resolve Marine Group, Mobile, Ala., arrived March 13 to recover the remainder of the Black Hawk helicopter wreckage from water about 25 feet deep in Santa Rosa Sound. As of Tuesday, the Intercoastal Waterway was still closed between buoy 203 and 221, but the barge was no longer at the site. A few Zodiac boats were in the area Tuesday afternoon. Marines from the Special Operations Command who died in the crash were identified on March 13: ■ Capt. Stanford Henry Shaw III of Basking Ridge, New Jersey; ■ Master Sgt.Thomas Saunders of Williamsburg,Virginia; ■ Staff Sgt. Liam Flynn of Queens, NewYork; ■ Staff Sgt. Trevor P. Blaylock of Lake Orion, Michigan; ■ Staff Sgt. Kerry Michael Kemp of Port Washington, Wisconsin; ■ Staff Sgt. Andrew Seif of Holland, Michigan, who March 6 was awarded the Silver Star and in 2013 was named by the USO as "Marine of the Year"; ■ Staff Sgt. Marcus Bawol from Warren, Michigan. All were stationed at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina and served in the 2nd Special Operations Battalion of the Marine Corps Special Operations Command. The soldiers from Louisiana Army National Guard’s 1244th Assault Helicopter Battalion were identified Monday morning: ■ Chief Warrant Officer George Wayne Griffin, 37, Hammond, La.

Witness heard trouble with helicopter rotor Staff Report editor@navarrepress.com Minutes before the UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter crashed into the Sound Tuesday night, Mike Morrison’s wife stepped outside of their garage and said she could see the wheels on the helicopter. “She could see the bottom of the helicopter,”Morrison said.“That’s how low it was over the house.” Morrison, a former pilot who lives on the Sound right on the county line, said at about 8 p.m., he noticed one of the helicopter’s rotors sounded different and then heard the rotors hit the water. Seconds later, he heard a pop, which he believes was the engine ingesting water. “There was no fire, no flame, nothing,”he said. He didn’t hear an explosion and the fog was too thick for him to see anything. Morrison said the crash occurred about 600 feet from his dock, which has a video camera. He said the camera didn’t pick up any flashes that would indicate there was an explosion. He didn’t smell any fuel or smoke. At the time of the crash, Morrison said the helicopter was moving north to south. Search and rescue teams were outside at about 5:30 p.m. Wednesday. “I heard them say they found the cockpit and the tail section,”he said, adding that he heard the divers say the nose section was pushed in. Morrison said rescuers recovered two bodies that were still strapped in to the helicopter and left the scene. Officials have not confirmed this account as of press time. ■ Chief Warrant Officer George David Strother, 44, Alexandria, La. ■ Staff Sgt. Lance Bergeron, 40, Hammond, La. ■ Staff Sgt.Thomas Florich, 26, Baton Rouge Their unit, based in Hammond, La., served two overseas tours in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and were also deployed during domestic missions, including Hurricanes Katrina and Irene and the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. “The entire military community mourns the loss of our friends that we consider family. Our hearts go out to the loved ones of these heroes,”

Maj. Gen. Glenn Curtis of the Louisiana National Guard said during a press conference, adding, "At times like these, words seem to offer little comfort. We are heartbroken. We are shocked. But we are a team … standing together for the families and for each other.” Florida Gov. Rick Scott March 13 declared all U.S. and Florida flags in the state be flown at half-staff through March 20. The U.S. Army Combat Readiness Center in Fort Rucker, Ala., is charged with investigating the crash.



Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk Helicopter State and local officials share their thoughts Gov. Rick Scott “Today, we are saddened to learn that a Louisiana Army National Guard helicopter carrying seven Marines and four soldiers crashed during a training exercise near Eglin Air Force Base. I reached out to Louisiana Gov. Bobby Scott Jindal … to offer any resources they may need during this tragic time. Florida National Guard Adjutant General Maj. Gen. Emmett Titshaw also spoke with the Louisiana National Guard … to offer resources they may need during their search. “Florida Fish and Wildlife officers immediately responded to the crash and are actively engaged in search efforts.“Every day, members of our armed forces put their lives on the line to protect our state and our nation and we cannot thank them enough for their service. Ann and I join all Floridians and Americans to pray for those involved in the crash and their families.” Fort Walton Beach Mayor Mike Anderson “It is with a heavy heart that I offer my condolences, on behalf of the City of Fort Walton Beach and its leadership, to the families of our fallen Marines and National Guardsmen in Tuesday’s tragic Black Hawk crash. As a community that actively and ceaselessly supports the mis- Anderson sion of our service members — many of whom are our own friends, family members and neighbors — we still find ourselves reeling from such a loss. Even as we regularly acknowledge and honor the sacrifices made in combat, we must now and always remind ourselves that every day, every training exercise, and every risk taken on our behalf, is a sacrifice. We thank our fallen heroes for those sacrifices and we are reminded once again to hold our living heroes close as much as we can. We will never forget. Congressman Jeff Miller My wifeVicki and I were saddened to learn of the crash of an Army helicopter during a training mission in the waters near Eglin Air Force Base last Tuesday. This tragedy reminds us of the dangerous jobs our men and women in uniform do Miller every day in service to our country. Whether overseas in a far-off land or here at home, there is no such thing as a routine mission. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of the four National Guardsmen and seven Marines involved in the crash. Sen. Bill Nelson “It’s tragic. Apparently, the Black Hawk helicopter went down and there was so much fog that it was hard in a rescue last night, in the middle of the night. And tragically, they’re [ now ] finding the debris and ... Nelson bodies. It’s sad.”

Support the families of the fallen The Special Operations Warrior Foundation The Special Operations Warrior Foundation is a top-rated nonprofit organization that supports the military's Special Operations Forces and their families through three programs: ■ College scholarships for the surviving children of fallen Special Operations Forces. ■ Family and educational counseling, including in-home tutoring, as well as advocacy support. ■ Immediate $3,000 financial grants to severely-wounded Special Operations Forces service members. Visit www.specialops.org The Mojo 69 Memorial Fund The Mojo 69 Memorial Fund was created to support the survivors of the crew of Mojo 69, four Army aviators, who died in the March 10 helicopter crash. www.giveforward.com/fundraiser/w138/mojo-69-memorial-fund The MARSOC Foundation The MARSOC Foundation was established to provide benevolent support to active duty and medically retired MARSOC personnel and their families as well as to the families of Marines and Sailors who have lost their lives while serving. According to its website, the foundation aims to meet needs unmet by the government with an emphasis on building personal and family resiliency and supporting the full reintegration of MARSOC Marines and Sailors following wounds, injuries and extended deployments. For more information, or to donate, visit www.marsocfoundation.org

UH-60 Black Hawk

■ Designed to carry a crew of four and a combat equipped squad of 11 or an equal cargo load. Capable of carrying external loads of up to 9,000 pounds. ■ Can perform a wide array of missions, including the tactical transport of troops, electronic warfare and aeromedical evacuation. ■ Black Hawk made its first flight in 1974 and has been in service with the U.S. Army since 1979. The UH-60 was designed to replace the UH-1 as the Army’s primary tactical transport helicopter. ■ The Black Hawk provides a highly maneuverable, air transportable troop-carrying helicopter for all intensities of conflict without regard to geographical location or environmental conditions. ■ Black Hawk is manufactured by Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. ■ Black Hawk is built to run without oil for a short period of time. It is armored to withstand hits from 23 mm shells and its airframe is designed to progressively crush on impact to protect the crew and passengers. Both the pilot and co-pilot are provided with armor-plated seats.

■ Black Hawk is equipped with a Global Positioning System, a composite titanium and fiberglass four-blade main rotor and two General Electric T700-GE-701C 1890 shp Turbo Shaft engines. ■ Modified versions have been developed for the U.S. Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard. ■ UH-60 has been exported to several nations. ■ Black Hawks have served in combat during conflicts in Grenada, Panama, Iraq, Somalia, the Balkans, Afghanistan and other areas in the Middle East. Maximum Gross Weight: 23,500 pounds Empty Weight: 11,283 pounds Maximum Speed: 222 miles per hour Length: 64 feet 10 inches. Height: Varies from 13 feet to 17 feet. Price per aircraft: $6.41 million (Fiscal Year 1999)

Seif received Silver Star 4 days before crash By Emery Dalesio and Tamara Lush Associated Press Just four days before he was killed in a helicopter crash, Staff Sgt. Andrew Seif was awarded one of the military's highest honors for heroism, a commendation he earned for his efforts to save a mortally wounded friend in heavy gunfire in Afghanistan. Seif, 26, was given the Photo courtesy of the Secretary of the Navy Silver Star in a room full Staff Sgt. Andrew Seif receives the Silver Star March 6, 2015, with his wife Dawn by his side. of his fellow Marines, walking arm in arm with his wife after the ceremony. The boy who grew up playing soldier in his Michigan backyard was hailed by one of his superiors, Maj. Gen. Joseph L. Osterman, as a selfless person who put himself in the line of fire so that Sgt. Justin Hansen wouldn't be left behind. He and Hansen came under heavy fire as they closed in on a bomb expert in Afghanistan. His comrade was wounded; Seif moved him to safety, treated his wounds and fired back. At the ceremony, he deflected praise. "There are definitely some individuals out there who deserve (the medal) just as well," Seif said. "But it's an honor to accept it on the behalf of the unit and on behalf of the rest of the men."





Team members’ records show exemplary service Staff Sgt.


Staff Sgt.





Bawol Staff Sgt. Marcus S. Bawol of Warren, Mich., "loved everything about the military," said his sister, Brandy Peek. "He couldn't wait to join. He wanted to fight for our country and was always striving to be the best Marine he could be," Peek said. The 26-year-old graduated in 2006 from Warren Mott High School. Bawol played baseball and football and was a member of the school's swim team, according to district Superintendent Robert Livernois. Bawol attended Olivet College for a year,

Staff Sgt.

where he was a catcher on the baseball team. Bawol served within U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Special Operations Command as a critical skills operator. His personal awards include the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, Combat Action and Good Conduct Medal. He had planned to marry his fiancée in October, Peek said. On Thursday, Warren Mayor Jim Fouts ordered flags in the city, just north of Detroit, flown at half-staff.

Staff Sgt. Thomas Florich was a native of Fairfax County, Virginia, and joined the Louisiana National Guard in 2007 as a Black Hawk repairer. He served during the massive Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010 and during Hurricane Isaac in 2012. Florich, 26, was remembered as an energetic and dedicated crew member. "He was family with the unit members," said Marquez, a platoon sergeant. "Tom was full of life and his personality could light the room." He was living in Baton Rouge at the time of his death.

He is survived by his wife, father and stepmother. His wife is expecting their first baby. Florich’s awards include the Army Achievement Medal, Army Reserve Components Achievement Medal (2nd Award), National Defense Service Medal, Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon, Army Service Ribbon, Army Reserve Components Overseas Training Ribbon, Coast Guard Special Operations Service Ribbon, Louisiana Emergency Service Ribbon (2nd Award), Louisiana General Excellence Ribbon and Louisiana Longevity Ribbon. He had also earned the Basic Aviation Badge.


Shaw III

Capt. Stanford Henry Shaw, III, 31, a native of Basking Ridge, N.J., served within U.S. Marine Corps Forces Special Operational Command as a team commander. Shaw attended Ridge High School, where he was student government president and captain of the varsity lacrosse team. Neighbors along a quiet cul-de-sac about 40 miles west of New York City said the hard-working teen they knew as Ford had always dreamed of going into the military. "Just a fantastic guy," said next-door neighbor Gretchen Priore, who said she'd known Shaw since he was in high school. He attended the United States Naval Academy and became a commissioned Marine officer upon graduation in 2006. He graduated from the Infantry Officer Course and was

assigned to the 1st Battalion, 7th Marines. He served two tours of duty in Iraq, in 2007 and 2009, according to information provided by the Marines at Camp Lejeune. His career took him to Japan, where he became the deputy camp commander of a jungle warfare training center on Okinawa in 2011. He graduated from the Malaysian army's jungle warfare course and then joined the Marine Special Forces. His personal awards include the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, Navy Unit Commendation, Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation, National Defense Service Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, and the Sea Service Deployment ribbon (with two stars).


Liam A.


Operational Command as a critical skills operator. Born in Memphis, Kemp met his wife, Jenna, at Port Washington High School, where he was voted "best smile" by his senior class. He graduated in 2005. He started as an artillery mechanic, and his military merit led to three quick promotions. He completed training in special operations in 2012 and spent seven months in Afghanistan before returning in June. His personal awards include the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal with Valor, Combat Action Ribbon and Good Conduct Medal.

Stanford Henry

Master Sgt.

Staff Sgt.

Staff Sgt.

Staff Sgt. Kerry Michael Kemp, 27, was the proud father of a baby just shy of her first birthday and loved horsing around with his nephews. "He would wrestle with them. He really got into that, the wrestling and playing. He'd carry them around on his back," said his sister-in-law, Lora Waraksa. He was a "proud Marine, a loving husband and most wonderful father," she said. He also loved golfing and the ocean — he often took his nephews out to hunt for sea shells. Kemp, a native of Port Washington, Wisc., served within U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Special




Chief Warrant Officer 4

George David


Staff Sgt. Lance Bergeron, 40, was a highly respected crew chief who was called one of the Guard's most qualified experts on Black Hawk helicopters. He enlisted in 1998 with the U.S. Marine Corps and joined the Louisiana National Guard as a Black Hawk repairer. He was also a valued instructor. "He was a subject matter expert in his job who exhibited an excitement of learning new skills," said Sgt. 1st Class Brian Marquez, a platoon sergeant with Bergeron's unit. He had 377 combat hours to his name and served in Iraq twice. He also was deployed during Hurricane Katrina and other major hurricanes to hit Louisiana. A native of Thibodaux in south Louisiana, Bergeron was remembered as a

loving father and husband. He is survived by his wife, two children and his parents. He was living in Hammond at the time of his death. Bergeron’s awards include the Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal, Army Commendation Medal (3rd Award), Army Good Conduct Medal, Army Reserve Components Achievement Medal (3rd Award), National Defense Service Medal with Bronze Service Star, Iraq Campaign Medal with 2 Campaign Stars, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Armed Forces Service Medal, Humanitarian Service Medal (2nd Award). He had also earned the Combat Action Badge and Senior Aviation Badge.

Born in Reading, England, Staff Sgt. Liam Flynn, 33, moved to Queens, N.Y., in 2002. He enlisted in the Marine Corps in 2006. After boot camp, he was assigned to Camp Lejeune. He served tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan before joining the Marine Corps'

Special Operations Force in 2011 and returning to Afghanistan in 2012. Flynn's heroism was honored by receiving three Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals with Valor and the Bronze Star with Valor and Combat Action Ribbon.

Born in Bonn, Germany, Master Sgt. Thomas A. Saunders, 33, enlisted in the Marines after graduating from high school in Virginia. Following basic training in 1999, he was assigned to Camp Lejeune. He served within U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Special Operational Command as a team chief. Saunders deployed to Kosovo and served with special operations teams in Iraq and Afghanistan years before joining a Marine Corps special operations unit in 2010. He spent eight months as a liaison to Army Special

Operations Command before joining his Middle East-focused regiment four years ago. He was married to a fellow Marine based at Camp Lejeune, and the couple has one son, according to an award by the Marine Corps Association & Foundation naming Saunders its Special Forces Operator of 2014. His personal awards include the Joint Service Commendation Medal, two Navy Marine Commendation Medal, five Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals, the Combat Infantry Badge and five Good Conduct Medals.

Chief Warrant Officer 4

Chief Warrant Officer George David Strother, described by his officers as a "force of nature," was a seasoned combat pilot. He had more than 700 combat hours under his belt. He served in Iraq, Afghanistan and Kosovo. He also was deployed during Hurricane Katrina and other major hurricanes to hit Louisiana. Strother, 44, is survived by his wife, son, step-daughter and mother. He was a native of Pineville, La. "To describe Dave Strother as a big personality would not be accurate," said Maj. Andre Jeansonne, an aviation commander with the Louisiana National Guard. "He was more like a force of

nature that could be best observed and marveled at, never opposed or altered." He was living Alexandria, La., at the time of his death. Strother’s awards and decorations include the Air Medal (3rd Award), Army Commendation Medal (3rd Award), Army Reserve Component Achievement Medal (7th Award), National Defense Service Medal with Bronze Service Star, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal with Campaign Star, Iraq Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Humanitarian Service Medal. He had earned the Combat Action Badge and Master Aviator Badge.

George Wayne


Staff Sgt.



Staff Sgt.

Trevor P.

Blaylock Staff Sgt. Trevor P. Blaylock, 29, was born in Lake Orion, Mich., and swam on the varsity swim team. He attended Henry Ford Community College for one year before joining the Marine Corps in 2006. Initially, he was a mechanic in an armored reconnaissance battalion at Camp Pendleton in California. He served two

tours in Iraq, in 2007 and 2008. He served within U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Special Operational Command as an element member. His personal awards include the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal with Valor, Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal and Combat Action ribbon.

With more than 6,000 flight hours, Chief Warrant Officer George Wayne Griffin was a respected and decorated veteran described by his commanders as one of the finest helicopter pilots they had. He was a full-time pilot attached to a Black Hawk unit based in Hammond. Previously he worked as an offshore oil industry helicopter pilot, said Col. Patrick Bossetta, an aviation commander. He once successfully landed a helicopter experiencing engine problems in the Gulf of Mexico, Bossetta said. He had more than 1,000 flight hours during combat, served in Iraq twice and was deployed during Hurricane Katrina as well as other major hurricanes to hit Louisiana. He also was involved in response efforts to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010. "He had a tremendous passion for flying and a God-given natural ability to fly both helicopters

and airplanes and to teach others," said Chief Warrant Officer Reggie Lane, who served with Griffin. Griffin was 37 and is survived by his wife, four children and his father. He was a native of Delhi in central Louisiana. He was living in Hammond at the time of his death. Griffin’s awards and decorations include the Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal (2nd Award), Army Reserve Components Achievement Medal (6th Award), National Defense Service Medal with Bronze Service Star, Iraq Campaign Medal with two Campaign Stars, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Armed Forces Service Medal, Humanitarian Service Medal (2nd Award). He had earned the Combat Action Badge, Senior Army Aviator Badge and Basic Aviation Badge.

U.S. Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command, known as MARSOC, is headquartered at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. According to Gunnery Sgt. Joshua Higgins, MARSOC Marines train in small teams, leading to close relationships within units. “It’s like growing up together,” Higgins said. “It’s like having a brother.” “MARSOC Marines are deployed quite often, if not, they’re training in the field,” he said. Higgins said the immediate families within a unit spend time together. “It’s a tight-knit unit,” he said. “They have functions together with their spouses and kids and immediate families.”

On March 6, just days before the helicopter crash, Staff Sgt. Andrew C. Seif was awarded the Silver Star Medal. Seif, 26, received the award for facing enemy fire to save a mortally wounded friend in Afghanistan in July 2012. He was born in Fairbanks, Alaska, and lived in Albuquerque, N.M., until middle school when his family moved to Holland, Mich., the Marines said. Seif grew up playing soldier in his backyard and joined the Marines just weeks after graduating from high school, according to an article about his award published this week in the Camp Lejeune Globe, the base newspaper. By 2012, he had spent two years as a special forces operator with the 2nd Marine Special Operations Battalion, which operates from the Middle East to Central Asia. Seif and his teammate, Sgt. Justin Hansen, were closing in

on one of western Afghanistan's bomb experts, according to the paper. They came under fire, and Hansen was hit. Seif moved Hansen to safer position and treated his teammate's wounds. Seif returned fire, advanced alone across the compound and found the targeted bomb-maker. "The fact that (Seif) continued to fight through the objective to get Sgt. Hansen taken care of, putting himself in the line of fire, speaks volumes to who he is and demonstrates that he would never leave a Marine behind," said Maj. Gen. Joseph L. Osterman. Seif's wife, Dawn, was by his side when he received the medal. In addition to the Silver Star Medal, his personal awards include Combat Action ribbon, Navy and Marine Corps Gold Parachutist Jump Wings, and the Good Conduct medal in lieu of second award.

Louisiana Army National Guard’s 1-244th Assault Helicopter Battalion Home Station: The unit’s home station is the Army Aviation Support Facility No. 1 in Hammond, La. Number of Soldiers: The company is comprised of approximately 300 LANG soldiers. Number of Black Hawks: There are currently 15 Black Hawk helicopters assigned to the 1/244th. Number of air assets assigned to the LANG: 26 UH-60 Black Hawks, 8 LUH-72 Lakotas , 1 C-12 Huron The 1-244th stood up as a unit in 1987. The AASF#1 stood up in 2008 after the 1-244th’s facilities at the New Orleans Lakefront Airport received extensive damage after Hurricane Katrina. Federal Operations include: ■ Operation Iraqi Freedom 2004-05; 2009-10 State emergency operations include: ■ 2005: Hurricanes Katrina and Rita ■ 2010: Operation Deepwater Horizon oil spill ■ 2011: Operation River Guardian ■ 2012: Hurricane Isaac Operations

MARSOC’s core activities Direct Action Conduct short strikes and small-scale offensive actions to seize, destroy, capture, recover or inflict damage in hostile or denied areas.

Foreign Internal Defense Provide training and other assistance to foreign governments and their militaries to enable them to provide for their national security.

Special Reconnaissance Acquire information about the capabilities, intentions, and activities of an enemy.

Counterinsurgency In concert with allied governments, we conduct military, paramilitary, political, economic, psychological, and civic action operations to defeat insurgency.

Preparation of the Environment Collect intelligence and prepare for future operations at the direction of USSOCOM. Security Force Assistance Support the security forces of allied foreign governments to achieve operational objectives the U.S. shares. Counterterrorism Prevent, deter and respond to terrorism.

Source: www.marsoc.com



Community shares heart-felt thoughts

Thank you for all your service for the protection of America!!! My deepest condolences to all the families and friends that were involved in the terrible tragedy!!! God bless you and keep you!! – Judy Van Matre, Navarre

“Fallen Hero”

I hope you can hear me - so many things I want you to know Silent communication is all I have left - I will never let go Your time with us too short - what I would give for more Left only with your memory to cherish and adore We will honor your life, so your death is not in vain Embrace your existence and not succumb to the pain You are called a Fallen Hero and honorably laid to rest Eulogies given from all the people that you have blessed You touched so many lives - each one in your own way Every moment with you will be remembered everyday Take the lighted path home to the Heavens above Thankful to have known you, blessed with your love Knowing you'll be there as our guiding light A countries Fallen Hero, our Angel in flight Your memory never forgotten - Forever in our hearts Our Angel watching over us, so we're never apart –Angela Goodwin


Tonight As we walk On these white and Storied shores

They took an oath To always defend The country That they loved

We weep In the silence For the soldiers there No more

But the tragedy Lies in the fact They left right here For God above

Our shores Once told us Of happiness And life

So when we walk These soft white sands And enjoy them by Taking in the view

But now They tell a story Of the men Who lost their lives

Remember those brave men Who died here Who died here for me And for you –Jackie Neville

“Last Flight”

On a foggy March evening with a mist carried over from the day, Mighty trumpets in Heaven were sounding, 11 souls were soon on their way; Angels with loving arms, greeted them from Heaven above, To welcome these military men who are so dearly loved. The pearly gates swung open, the heavens so colorful and bright, Thousands gathered around to greet these heroes, as they walked toward the angelic light; Greeted and embraced by family and fellow comrades who had gone on before, What rejoicing with love and laughter God still had in store. One by one, standing side by side, they looked upon God's face. "I prepared a place for you," He said, and held them with such a warm embrace; "Welcome home my faithful children, your service has been a job well done," You have earned your wings, your heavenly home, now stand watch over earthly ones. On that fateful night no pain, tears or sadness, in Heaven I am sure, But so much sorrow and unspoken words for the ones left behind to endure; The pain for them so great, not a word could describe or say, For the crew who we love so dearly, left expectantly in such a tragic way. Rest assured this selfless and dedicated Crew, has received their greatest Reward, To be in the presence of God, the Son and the Holy Spirit, forever more; They await the grand reunion when loved ones will gather with them soon, But until then, may the thoughts of them be a lasting comfort to you. – Brenda Breland, MSgt, USAF, Ret, Navarre, FL I saw them at the Destin airport right before takeoff. God be with them and those they have left behind. My sincere thanks to each one of them for their service to our beautiful country. –Palma Jorgense

Our thoughts, hearts and prayers ... and as a military family we honor as best we can ... God bless, comfort and give strength to all. –Ron and Jan Trzepacz, Navarre

Wayne Griffin, Best of the Best


As we sit and wait for the heavy fog to lift to send heaven another loved one lost, hurt, and terrified of his shift will he be God’s next son Just like a Marine, he stands perfectly straight for those before him already gone while opening up the heavenly gate for those who stand ready for a new dawn There are reasons why his sacrifice is adorned he was challenged by every closed door one by one, loved ones are torn yet some choose to ignore The Marines whispers to his mother “It’s OK, we have our brother” –Garrett Schluter, Navarre High School

“In a Moment”

In a moment the normal to the unimaginable the calm to the storm the security to the vulnerability the ordinary to the chaos the cadence of life to the silence In a moment together and alone tethered by love

Navigating a new road wondering why the road has to be traveled Back to the silence An unfair crossroad without choice The end to the beginning –Susan Hardie

Serving in the 244th back in 1986 before it became the MOJO unit was a learning experience before going to the first sand box tour in 1990 with the sister Medical Evac company – the 812th Air Ambulance unit. I got out after that to fly contract civilian flights with Air Force, Marines, Navy and USCG – high-profile military and civilian task forces over the years along with higher profile CEOs. I am fortunate to still serve with the highest of caliber soldiers / marines / airmen / seamen of all the services that Uncle Sam picks – many academy and Top Gun schools. In reality, I was just lucky to be taught by Vietnam Vets – the best! My life and faith do not compare however, to what the president of Panther Helicopters told me of Wayne Griffin,"It doesn't get any better than little GW (Wayne)" GW is what his friends call him. The president of Panther Helicopters knew him as the best check airmen the FAA could provide. I knew him since he saved everyone on board after a forced landing in the Gulf of Mexico in 2002. He was in the Guard part-time and flew offshore for Airlog and Chevron before Panther. He loved his family so much that he left high-paying civilian jobs to be a full-time instructor pilot with the 1-244th Assault Helicopter Battalion in Hammond, La., which he did so that he would have more time with his family. But then, the Guard gets deployed so much that I wondered about that for a while until I realized he was a real service member. Not in it for profit; just the hard-core flying with other services. He loved and bragged about only one thing to me, his beautiful-family. Without any doubt, GW is one special-ops pilot that exceeds all expectations as an aviator. I know because not only did I serve with our nation’s best, I am still fortunate to work for a civilian helicopter company that employs spec-ops from all services. As mentioned, I was fortunate to have Vets train me and was able to pass the test when the right people gave me a shot; but, I wasn't nearly as good as GW. I learned a lot from him. Makes me sad ... so sad for his family. –Bill Majeau, friend

About “GW” Wayne Griffin

“First and foremost, he was a good man and a good human being, a friend. He made me laugh a lot and he was an excellent pilot. He was one of the better pilots that I have met and had the privilege of flying with – just a good guy. He was excellent at what he did, and I’m going to miss him.” –Sean Ourso , Panther Helicopter Chief Pilot, who worked with Griffin for more than two years at Panther.

Graphic by Thomas Walsh






Tragedy strikes chord in Navarre

By Shana Roberson shana@navarrepress.com

On the evening of March 11, a fog surrounded the Navarre Beach Fishing Pier so thickly that visitors could not see beyond their next 20 steps. But the murky fog didn’t dim the candles of the more than 500 people gathered at the end of the pier for a vigil honoring 11 service members killed in a helicopter crash in the Navarre Sound just 24 hours earlier. One attendee likened the somber weather as a reflection of the community’s mood and emotional response to the tragedy. Another said the fog was enveloping in the same way they hoped their compassion and sympathy would for those who lost loved ones. The vigil was just one way community members responded to that tragedy. Within hours of the Navarre community learning a helicopter crash in the Navarre Sound killed 11 service members, they sprang into action. Some delivered food and drinks to rescue workers. Others planted 11 miniature American flags in the ground in honor of those lost. Some organized the candlelight vigil, while others organized a memorial fitness event. Still others organized grief counseling and gathered care packages for the surviving families. “It’s an emotional response. Most people ask themselves as ‘What if that were us?’They want to show their empathy and share their solidarity,”said clinical consultant and Navarre resident Maegan Glidden. Signs of support All around the Navarre area, residents searched for ways to express their compassion and empathy for the tragedy that unfolded in an area that is no stranger to military action. One of the first signs passersby may have noticed was the 11 American flags Glenda Patterson, a 20-year Navarre resident, planted in front of the Navarre Beach sign on the Causeway. She posted them in honor of the military members lost in the crash. She received the flags at no cost from Ace Hardware. “That was our way of helping,” said Mary with Ace Hardware.“We are part of the community and we just wanted to help out.” After Patterson installed

sympathy cards which were stacked in a drop off box at Slippery Mermaid. Employees of Slippery Mermaid collected mail and other items to create care packages for each family. “We have a box out front open to the public and we are collecting letters, sympathy cards and other care package items,”Ricki Duncan said. She added that she wanted to create a physical representation of their condolences. “We thought maybe as a community, since they are not from here, that we could at least extend our prayers and thoughts to families affected,”she said.

Photo by Ashley Varese

Anthony Santiago, prior service, attended Thursday’s vigil at Navarre Park to pay his respects to the fallen.

her flags, they immediately began popping up all around town at dozens of intersections, neighborhoods and businesses. Joining together That afternoon, a simple Facebook post began to gain momentum. Navarre resident James B l a c k wo o d invited locals to come to the pier for the Blackwood candlelight vigil. Before he knew it, hundreds of people began to stream in through the gates. A resident of Navarre for only two years, Blackwood said he was blown away by the community’s response. “I did not expect this kind of turnout, this many people to come out and show their support,”Blackwood said.“It just shows how much we appreciate what our military does for us. These sacrifices don’t go unnoticed, it means so much to us that the men and women are out there fighting for us.” Blackwood teamed up with Momentum Church. Worship leaders Matt Arnold and Tyler McNeely brought guitars and led the group in songs, including“Amazing Grace.”Navarre Campus Pastor Alex Velarde led the group in prayer and gave a special message to the military community. “You inspire us. We want to personally thank you for courage, for choosing to fight for our freedom, for our country,” Velarde said.“You are our heroes.Your service is what makes the United States of America the great-

Photo by Shana Roberson

The staff at the Slippery Mermaid is collecting cards for care packages they will send to the families of the servicemen killed in the March 10 helicopter crash in Santa Rosa Sound. est country on Earth.” Cheryl Cockrell is in the Air Force and stationed at Eglin Air Force Base. She attended the event to show her support to the military families. “It’s just nice to see that there is just so many people behind us and what we do. It’s very encouraging,”Cockrell said. The event also raised several hundred dollars for the families of the fallen. The following night, despite pouring rain, Kelsey Lassiter and Hope Rencher hosted another vigil, this time in Navarre Park. The event was rain or shine, and nearly 30 people attended. "If they can be out there pulling up the wreckage, we can be out here," Rencher said of the downpour. Matthew Rumple, who was active duty in the Army for 21 years until he was wounded in combat, spoke at the vigil, and after he said the military is like a family. “I know what they’re going through,”he said. Mallory Place and her

brother, Tanner, both students at Navarre High School, attended the vigil. Mallory said the crash affected her. “I just felt something,”she said.“Our mom and dad are retired Air Force, so the military is a big part of our life.”

showed up. Team RWB organizer Adama Anderson and Bares agreed the show of support was due to the heavy military population. “The entire panhandle is almost half military,”Adama said, adding that the Navarre community was used to seeing training missions daily. “Along the bases we see helicopters always flying over the beach. In our backyards they are bombing, you hear the gunships practicing on targets. So yeah, this affects everybody.” Fort Walton Beach’s Run With It and Northwest Florida’s Track Club donated tables, cups and Gatorade for the athletes who traveled anywhere from 1.1 to 11 miles in the race along Gulf Boulevard. Katie Trzcinski ran the 11 miles carrying a large Honor and Remember flag in honor of a team member her husband lost. Others carried American flags for the distance.

Taking to the streets On the Sunday following the crash, the Fort Walton Beach chapter of Team Red, White & Blue (RWB) and Navarre Runners teamed up to host the Navarre Memorial Fitness Event and invited all types of athletes including runners, bikers and even skateboarders to trek a distance in memory of those lost. The event was organized in less than three days and raised $1,200 for the families of the fallen. “Honestly I was only thinking maybe 50 people would be out here at the most, but all of the sudden people started RSVPing,” Navarre Runners organizer Mike Bares said. Support for the families The morning of the race, American flags were also more than 100 people hand drawn by children on

The after effects Other members of the community created memorial T-shirts to sell as a fundraiser for the families. The Navarre Beach Area Chamber of Commerce and the Bindu Institute worked together to create resources for those who might have been affected locally by the crash. “People may experience secondary trauma – for example, some people saw the helicopter earlier in the day,”Glidden said.“For others sometimes these events bring up residual grief from past events.” Glidden said it is important to remain vigilant and get help if it is needed, especially since it hits home for so many in this community. “We sort of become almost passive to things like the bombing on the range, we find it to be so normal,”she said.“This type of situation really brings a lot of the realities home of what these guys are really doing.” An event like the crash can elevate the anxiety for families and loved ones of those in the military, but have not faced this particular type of loss. “Remain cognizant, ask ‘How is this affecting me?’” was Glidden’s advice.“Do a self-check and exhibit selfcare.” For many in the Navarre community, part of that selfcare meant getting involved.


YMCA EASTER EXTRAVAGANZA! We will be hosting an Easter egg hunt on Sunday, March 29th at 4:00pm. The Easter egg hunt will be split into three age groups from ages 1-10. Fun for all ages include: Face painting, jelly bean guessing contest, arts & crafts, and raffle prizes! Bring your baskets! See you at the Y!

Monthly Memberships: Young Adults: $25 Adult: $39 Household: $63 2379 Pawnee Drive | (850) 936-0049 | ymcanwfl.org



Community Briefs Seagrass Awareness celebration Residents who have ever wondered what lives in seagrass, also known as underwater gardens, are invited to learn more about the vegetation, as well as marine creatures, fishing and kayaking at the 15th annual Seagrass Awareness Celebration. The free family event takes place March 21 at Shoreline Park South in Gulf Breeze from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Activities include live marine life in touch tanks, “eat a seagrass bed,” making a shark tooth necklace, seining, games, fishing, marine creatures, arts and crafts, food, displays, fishing, kayaking and more. More information is available at www.facebook.com/seagrasscelebration. In addition, the Gulf Breeze Rotary Club will sponsor its annual gumbo cook-off at Shoreline Park South from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Nearly 20 teams will participate. Tickets at the gate for “all the Gumbo you can eat” are $12. Music and dancing will be included at the cook-off. Join participating groups from the Navarre Beach Marine Science Station, the Navarre Beach Sea Turtle Conservation Center, Florida Department of Environmental Protection and more. For more information, contact Chris Verlinde, chrismv@ufl.edu or 850-6233868. 31st annual Navarre Fun Fest accepting local artisans The Navarre Beach Area Chamber of Commerce’s 31st annual Navarre Fun Fest will take place April 24 and 25 on Navarre Beach. Navarre Fun Fest is free and open to the public. The event features two days of non-stop live entertainment beginning on Friday, April 24, at 4 p.m. In addition to food, music and fun the event will feature local artisans, live entertainment, children’s area and a fireworks show after the concert on Saturday night. There will also be a Fun Fest 5K and 1 Mile Fun Run/Walk on Saturday at 8 a.m. on Navarre Beach. Registration fee for artists is $100 per 10-by-10 space until March 15. Contact the chamber at 850-939-3267 or www.navarrechamber.com for more information. Local library events ■ Story time for 3- to 5-year olds who can to attend without a caregiver takes place Tuesdays at 11 a.m. at the Navarre location and Wednesdays at 11 a.m. at the Gulf Breeze Library from March 23 through May 1. ■ Hopeful Hearts, a bereavement support group, is held at the Navarre library Fridays from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The weekly sessions will address grief support – following an educational outline – and offer assistance, love and listening ears to those grieving over the loss of a loved one. The meetings will be facilitated by Chaplain Ken Spivey of Emerald Coast Hospice. All materials will be provided and refreshments will be served. Reservations are not required. There is no charge to participate. The programs are held at the Navarre Library located at 8484 James M. Harvell Road. ■ Genealogy research assistance is available from 9 a.m. to noon at the Navarre Library. A volunteer will be available to give general genealogy research guidance, one-on-one assistance in using online and print genealogy resources for family researchers, and assistance in filling out ancestral charts and family group records. Beginners and seasoned researchers are invited to use these services. ■ A movie matinee will be held at 2 p.m. the second Tuesday of each month at the Navarre Library. ■ Classic movies will be shown at 2 p.m. on the second Tuesday of every month except during summer months. ■ An adult sewing class takes place March 24 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Gulf Breeze Library. ■ Hospice Hour takes place March 25 from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. at the Navarre Library. Shannon Snowden, R.N., of Emerald Coast Hospice will explain how hospice services work, what types of services are provided, and when hospice services might be beneficial.

Tragedy Continued from page 1B Caring for first responders In the early hours of Tuesday morning, responders poured in to help find the victims. Deputy Rich Aloy with the Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office told reporters that search and rescue personnel had been overwhelmed with support and food from the community. Several agencies worked together on the recovery efforts — including air-

men from both Hurlburt Field and Eglin Air Force Base, the U.S. Coast Guard as well as firefighters from Navarre Beach Fire Department. Officers from the SRCSO turned out in full force to help as well. “Basically anybody that was available to come out today — they did,”Aloy said. Aloy said they received food from local citizens as well as businesses including WalMart and Zaxby’s. “I’m so proud to serve the citizens of this county,”he said, adding he had been overwhelmed with the support

from a community where military is a way of life.“I get goosebumps when I talk about it, just how caring the community has been.” Glidden said the community’s response was not unusual. “People react to grief and trauma so differently and doing something positive is absolutely therapeutic,”Glidden said. “It’s almost like a chain reaction. It becomes a situation that inspires people to continue to pay it forward.” Ashley Varese contributed to this report.

Photo by Sandi Kemp

Louisiana takes cue from Navarre By Ashley Varese editor@navarrepress.com While checking the news and scrolling through Facebook, Louisiana resident Gillian Howes Rabalais came across photos from last week’s vigil at the Navarre Beach Fishing Pier which honored the fallen in the March 10 helicopter crash. “I thought,‘Why aren’t we doing anything here?’”the Hammond native said.“These are our guys. My husband was in the unit from 2000 to 2006.There was nothing on the gates at the unit, nothing was being done.” “My husband knew Lance (Staff Sgt. Lance Bergeron),” she said,“and when he heard he had passed, it really hit him hard,”she said.“We’re still friends with a lot of guys and girls in the group.” She took to social media and while most people supported or“liked”her idea of hosting a vigil, no one really stepped up. “Then one woman commented and said‘I agree, let’s do it.’” That’s when Rabalais got to work. She called the City of Hammond as well as the mayor, but had a hard time reaching them. Finally, at about 4:45 on Friday afternoon, the city called and gave its full support. “They pretty much gave us carte blanche on what we could do,”she said. The vigil, which her husband posted on Facebook, was scheduled for 7 p.m. Sunday and Rabalais planned on 200 people. “But it’s Facebook.You put

RESTORE application deadline extended Staff Reports editor@navarrepress.com

Photos by Carl Rabalais

Gillian Howes Rabalais passes out candles at the vigil she organized in Hammond, La.

one thing up and it’s going to blow up,”she said. And did it ever. About 1,200 people attended the event. “I’ve never seen the park so full,”she said, adding that candles were donated by various organizations. “It was a beautiful event,” she said.“We released 11 paper lanterns to signify the 11 men who passed away; brothers from their unit … it was a very special moment.” Once the pastor said a few

words and the candles were extinguished, Rabalais expected the crowd to clear out. “No one wanted to leave,”she said.“They hung

around and it was such a moment of camaraderie. It was just an amazing moment.” While Rabalais only wanted to honor the men lost in the crash, she ended up touching her community. “Someone said to me‘You started a healing process,’” she said.“That really means a lot to me. I wanted these guys to know that the community’s here. It’s not enough to shake their hands … we wanted to come out and say we’re behind you 100 percent and we’re mourning with you.”

NHS student catches season’s first cobia Photo by Romi White

Dalton Morrison, a sophomore at Navarre High School, landed the first cobia of the 2015 season March 16 off Navarre Beach Fishing Pier. Morrison caught the 32-pound fish using a lure he handcrafted.

M ARIA YATES-LEE Nail Specialist House calls on request. Set your appointment today!

Cell: 850.712.1165 E-mail: tippyria@aol.com


8543 Navarre Parkway • 939-3267

w w w. n a v a r r e c h a m b e r. c o m

Join the Navarre Chamber for

“March Membership Madness” March 1-31, 2015 and receive more than $400 in FREE advertising!! membership@navarrechamber.com

Santa Rosa County has extended the deadline to submit RESTORE project proposals to Friday, April 3, for inclusion in the county’s multi-year implementation plan. The complete request for proposals, project guidance and new resources are available at www.santarosa.fl.gov/ bocc/restore.cfm. Approximately $4.3 million is available to Santa Rosa County in the first round of the direct component funding offered through the RESTORE Act. The RESTORE Act requires Santa Rosa County to create a multi-year implementation plan that is submitted to the U.S. Treasury Department for review and approval. All project applications submitted for inclusion in the county’s plan will be ranked by a technical team and reviewed by the Santa Rosa County Local RESTORE Council which will develop the multi-year implementation plan to present to the Board of County Commissioners for approval. Once developed and approved by the commission, there is a 45-day public comment period before the plan is forwarded to the U.S. Treasury Department for final acceptance. This initial release of funding is a small part of an estimated $20 million to $60 million Santa Rosa County is expected to receive once litigation and Clean Water Act fines against BP are finalized. The funding for the county’s multi-year plan, called the direct component, is just one of the many sources of funding associated with the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Questions about the Santa Rosa County RESTORE application process can be emailed by Thursday, April 2, to RESTORE@santarosa.fl.gov or contact Sheila Harris at 850-983-1848.




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Airmen begin ‘ruck march’ from Tampa to Panhandle

Lance Rothstein / Tribune staff

The Air Commando Ruck Marchers and their support crew pause for a moment of prayer before their long march to Hurlburt Field in the Florida Panhandle. Their shadows are cast on the site of the Special Operations Memorial at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa. By Geoff Fox Tribune staff

The Tampa Tribune Published: March 15, 2015 Reprinted with permission Eleven U.S. Air Force airmen stood before the U.S. Special Operations Command memorial wall at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa Sunday morning, their heads bowed as a chaplain prayed. Their sturdy figures, loaded with 50-pound backpacks — a small U.S. flag flapping from the top of each — cast 11 shadows across the ground. The symbolism was as clear as the overhead sky. A deadly Black Hawk helicopter crash near Eglin Air Force Base on Tuesday in the

panhandle claimed the lives of 11 U.S. troops. To the men and women carrying backpacks up Florida’s west coast this week to Hurlburt Field, the home of U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command, it was like losing 11 family members. “They went down a mile from where we live,”airman Joe Scobey said as he prepared to march.“The flags in our backpacks are for each guy who went down. “I didn’t know them all personally, but they’re part of the family.” Once the march is completed, the flags will be made into memorial shadow box displays for the families of the troops killed in Tuesday’s crash. The airmen also hope the walk

— known as a“ruck march” — will raise money through the Air Commando Association and Special Operations Warrior Foundation. “We’ll go in four teams,” Scobey said.“The teams will walk 12 miles every three hours”before a fresh team takes over. A large American flag held by the lead walker is to be kept in the wind at all times. On Sunday, the group left MacDill and walked toward Himes Avenue. The fourth annual march was expected to pass through Land O’Lakes later Sunday before heading toward Brooksville. Airman Meaghan Freeman completed the five-day march last year, and looked forward to the grueling challenge, to

be completed with or without Mother Nature’s cooperation. “We’ve always been tightknit,”Freeman said of military personnel.“But last year, it was really eye-opening to see how many people came out to support us, donate food, or offer us a place to sleep.” Airman William Collier was solemn Sunday, as he recalled his own flight on Tuesday, the night the Black Hawk crashed. “We landed safely,”Collier said.“They made the ultimate sacrifice.” Collier participated in the inaugural march, but said he was deployed the past two years. “We’ll get blisters no matter what, and there will be aches and pains”from haul-

ing the backpacks, he said. “But, that’s a small sacrifice.” Scobey expected the march to start hurting around the third or fourth day. But, he said, the walkers will be fortified with Gatorade, bananas and other sustenance. The marchers will stop at some fire stations along the route. “A lot of those guys are very patriotic,”Scobey said.“Sometimes, they’ll have pasta there waiting for us.” Retired U.S. Air Force Col. John Alvarez was among a small group of people who met marchers at the memorial wall. Alvarez, who lost his left leg in a special operations mission, said he spent about a dozen years at Hurlburt Field, where the march will end.

“I’m just blessed to be alive,” Alvarez said.“It really hit home this week with the crash at Eglin.” He spoke of the marchers’ selfless nature. As the group left MacDill, Alvarez pointed to a tall, muscular airman, who marched toward the back of the formation. The airman was instrumental in organizing the first ruck march from MacDill, but seemed intent on deflecting media attention Sunday. Less than two weeks after completing the march, an official said, he is expected to be back in the air — flying over Kuwait. The group is expected to arrive at Hurlburt at 3 p.m. on Friday.

WSRE will host preview screening of ‘Last Days in Vietnam’ Staff Reports editor@navarrepress.com WSRE, PBS for the Gulf Coast, will present a special preview screening of the Academy Award-nominated documentary“Last Days inVietnam”on Tuesday, March 24, at 7 p.m. in the Jean & Paul Amos Performance Studio. Admission is free. “Last Days inVietnam”will anchor a special week of PBS programming related to the Vietnam War beginning April 27. Directed by Rory Kennedy and airing in conjunction with the 40th anniversary of the fall of Saigon, the film will

premiere on PBS as an AMERICAN EXPERIENCE presentation on Tuesday, April 28, from 8 to 10 p.m. on WSRE. Also, Kennedy is scheduled to speak as part of the WSRE Public Square Speakers Series on Tuesday, May 19. “Last Days in Vietnam” chronicles the chaotic final days of the Vietnam War, as the NorthVietnamese Army closed in on Saigon and South Vietnamese resistance crumbled. City after city and village after village fell to the North while the few U.S. diplomats and military operatives still in the country con-

templated withdrawal. With the lives of thousands of South Vietnamese hanging in the balance, those in control faced an impossible choice –– who would go and who would be left behind to face brutality, imprisonment or even death. With the clock ticking and the city under fire, American officers on the ground found themselves faced with a moral dilemma: Whether to follow official policy and evacuate U.S. citizens and their dependents only, or to ignore their orders and save the Vietnamese men, women and inVietnam. At the risk of their uals took matters into their children they had come to careers and possible courts- own hands. Engaging in value and love in their years martial, a handful of individ- unsanctioned and often

makeshift operations, they waged a desperate effort to evacuate as many SouthVietnamese as possible. In conjunction with this event and future projects documentingVietnam War memories, including a locally produced documentary and a PBS documentary film series by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick to be released in 2016, WSRE is invitingVietnamese Americans, veterans and their families to share their experiences. Stories can be submitted online at wsre.org/vietnamstories and will be made available to the public, pending station approval.

Hurlburt Airman named Air Force Military Tester Military Briefs By Airman 1st Class Andrea Posey 1st Special Operations Wing Public Affairs Master Sgt. Daniel Drennen, 605th Test and Evaluation Squadron flight chief, was awarded the 2014 National Defense Industrial Association Air Force Military Tester of the year award at the annual NDIA Test and Evaluation conference in Springfield, Va., March 2 through 4. The award, presented to outstanding individuals in the field of Test and Evaluation, offers the Office of the Secretary of Defense and each Military Service Test and Evaluation Department the opportunity to select three award recipients for recognition as

the Tester of the Year in specific categories. “It is not surprising that [Drennen] received this award. He is an amazing sergeant who dives deep into what needs to be done to accomplish the mission,”said Capt. Chad Brandl, 605th Test and Evaluation Squadron flight commander.“This program could not be what it is today without him.” Drennen was recognized in the military category for orchestrating operational testing of the Air Force Distributed Common Ground Station Geospatial Intelligence Baseline version 4.1, which achieved the first baseline upgrade installation in more than six years and enabled continuous mission support for eight

Combatant Commands. “I am happy to receive this award,”said Drennen.“But I give thanks to my entire team for the great success of our program.” His additional accomplishments included overseeing the operational utility evaluation of Gorgon Stare Increment Two upgrade that resulted in the successful fielding of the $168 million capability. He also facilitated the conduct of the first Integrated Test Team meeting for the Air Force Distributed Common Ground Station in more than three years. Drennen believes his accomplishments are a direct reflection on the training he’s received at his squadron, and plans to continue honing his craft.

Trahant graduates basic combat training Army private Stephen C. Trahant has graduated from basic combat training at Fort Jackson, Columbia, S.C. During the nine weeks of training, the soldier studied the Army mission, history, tradition and core values, physical fitness, and received instruction and practice in basic combat skills, military weapons, chemical warfare and bayonet training, drill and ceremony, marching, rifle marksmanship, armed and unarmed combat, map reading, field tactics, military courtesy, military justice system, basic first aid, foot marches, and field training exercises. Trahant is the son of Wade C. Trahant of Pineville, La., and Deana J. Hunnicutt of Navarre, and step-son of Luanne F. Trahant of Pineville, La. He is a 2009 graduate of Navarre High School.




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Church unites during time of tragedy By Ashley Varese editor@navarrepress.co Hours after learning about last week’s fatal Black Hawk helicopter crash, which took the lives of 11 servicemen, Navarre First Assembly of God on U.S. 98 announced it would host a candlelight ceremony open to the public. Nearly 70 people attended the service, which included worship and a message from Senior Pastor Jon Skipper. “Living here, we support our military,”Skipper said. “We’re surrounded by them and we’re constantly reminded of the price of freedom with what goes on.” Skipper said that while parishioners didn’t know the crash victims, they knew that children were missing their fathers and wives were missing their husbands. “We want to connect with them,”he said.“Although we don’t know them, they’re part of our family. We’re one nation under God.” They dimmed the lights and ushers went pew by pew, lighting candles for the visitors. Twelve candles were set atop a table at the front of the church – 11 for the men killed in the crash and one for Jesus. “They’re all seeing Jesus,” he said.“Christ understands better than any of us the price for freedom.” Sharon Davis, who’s been going to First Assembly for about 20 years, attended the service to support the families who lost someone. “With us being a military community, it means so much for everyone,” Davis said, adding that her husband was in the Air Force. Calli Maggi said it was nice to see everyone pull together

Photos by Ashley Varese

Members of Navarre First Assembly of God gathered for a candlelight ceremony Wednesday, March 11, to honor the 11 servicemen killed in the March 10 helicopter crash in Santa Rosa Sound. Nearly 70 people attended.

and attend the ceremony. “This is pretty tragic for Navarre, and I wanted to show my support,”she said.“I’m sending my prayers to the families. I can’t imagine what they’re going through.” Johnnie Oakes is from a mil-

itary family. Her husband is a retired sergeant and three of their four children serve in the military. “I want to show respect for the wonderful people that serve us,”she said.“Our hearts are with them and their families.”

Oakes said she was proud of Navarre and First Assembly’s response to the tragedy. “We have an awesome community,”she said.“God’s blessed us with them.” She said the ceremony was “right on,”adding that Skip-

per offered hope for the families. “Our prayers will strengthen them and be with them,” Oakes said. Michael Coggins, retired Air Force and Navarre resident, said church members

could identify with the helicopter crash. “We have a lot of active duty military in our church,” he said.“We’re constantly seeing our own members deployed out, and what affects one affects us all.”

Prayer shawls bring love, grace and blessings By Ally Karsyn Sioux City Journal With yarn in their fingers and skeins at their feet, three women sit in a quiet church parlor. Loop by loop, they add to the prayer shawls in their laps. The small blankets are mindfully made to uplift and sustain the sick and afflicted in the church family and surrounding community. Others in shades of pale yellow, cotton candy pink and blue are crafted to celebrate the life of a baptized baby. They say whoever gets one is wrapped in love and

grace. For each, a prayer is said from the start, and it's blessed after the last stitch has been secured. Jill Clem founded the Prayer Shawl Ministry three years ago as an outgrowth of another knitting circle at Grace United Methodist Church. Both groups seek to provide comfort and care through handmade gifts. Every Wednesday, needleworkers from the parish and community come together for Purls of Faith, which started in 2003 when the church secretary wanted to learn the craft and Glendy Nichols volunteered to teach her.

"Anybody who hears about us and wants to learn to knit or wants to refresh their skills is welcome," Nichols said. "There is no fee. I supply the needles and the yarn for them to learn to knit." The first project they do is something for charity, which could be for the Council on Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence, Ttop sweaters for World Vision's Knit for Kids program or cardigans to go in the baby layettes for the United Methodist Committee on Relief. The group also makes

Navarre United Methodist Church

A Celebration for Kids

Easter Egg Hunt Saturday, March 28 10:00 a.m. – Noon Rain date April 4th

For ages 12 and under • Bring your own basket.

Story time, games, activities, refreshments & candy For more information


9474 Navarre Parkway • www.navarreumc.org

hats, mittens and scarves for students in need at Spalding Elementary School. "I can't think of the last time I've knit anything for myself," Nichols said. "It's either for the church bazaar or it's the T-tops or baby cardigans. No, I don't knit for myself anymore." For her, it's an outlet to teach. Before retiring in 1997, she taught science and math classes in high school, worked in special education for 17 years and gave violin lessons. She's still teaching one 89-year-old woman how to play. "I've had people that say, 'I know I can't learn to knit.' I just keep after them," she said. "They tell me I'm patient. I don't know. I just

teach. I'm a teacher." Clem, the minister of small group ministries at the church, learned to knit from her grandmother back in the day, but needed help from Nichols to relearn some of the skills. In turn, Clem taught Marta Nelson to knit – no small feat since her grandmother tried to teach her, too, but met her match with Nelson's left-handed technique. "I've been told if I ever make clothes it would come out backwards," Nelson said with a laugh. Now, if she gets stuck, she finds left-handed knitting videos on YouTube. On Thursday afternoon, she joined Clem to make prayer shawls for the homebound, hospitalized and

Holy Trinity Lutheran ELCA Sunday School for all ages 9:40 am

S unday Worship 8:15 a.m. & 11:00 a.m.


363 Miracle Strip Pkwy. - Fort Walton Beach, FL (Hwy. 98 - Across from Liza Jackson Park)

Navarre United Methodist Church and Preschool Worship Times Contemporary: 8:30 a.m. & 9:45 a.m. Traditional: 11:10 a.m.

(850)939-2028 9474 Navarre Parkway • Navarre, FL 32566

To Develop Each Person into a Fully Devoted Disciple of Christ

downtrodden. They're meant to be a blessing to those who receive them, but Clem said she feels blessed as well. She knows of one woman who carried the small blanket with her to the cancer treatment center. Another had a stroke that took her ability to talk. When the minister gave her a prayer shawl, the woman took her one working arm and hugged the blanket to her body, saying thank you, though she couldn't speak. "Moments like that, I'm so happy that we have this and continue to do this and that people are blessed by them," Clem said. "Something was created just for them and prayed over to give them the comfort they need."

Faith Briefs Free family movie night Risen Savior Lutheran Church, 9664 Navarre Parkway, will present Disney’s “Big Hero 6” at a free family movie night Friday, March 27, at 6:30 p.m. Popcorn and drinks will be provided. For more information, call Risen Savior at 850-936-1005 or visit www.risensaviorchurch.org

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Profile for Navarre Press

10 Breaking News Story  

March 19, 2015 Black Hawk Crash Coverage

10 Breaking News Story  

March 19, 2015 Black Hawk Crash Coverage