by David Westfall
Last night, March 29th 2011, at about 7:30 p.m. local time, a CH-53 with 4 Marines on board from MCAS Kaneohe, Hawaii, went down near the base. It was a water crash, but luckily, the water was only about 4 feet deep. Apparently, they have all survived the crash, but at least one is in critical condition. KBay is where we used to do our practice SAR jumps when I was stationed at HSL-37, NAS Barber's Point, Hawaii. It is now the home base for HSL-37 since they closed NAS Barber's Point back in the mid 1990's.
It was about 18 years and one week ago that a helo from my squadron went down in the Straights of Hormuz. I lost three good friends that night. Only a few years before that, our squadron lost another bird. Only one crewman was lost, but the other two will never be the same, either mentally or physically.
I was only in the Navy for 12 years. I have now been out for almost 16 years, much longer than I was in, but these feelings of hurt and sadness still rear their ugly heads every time I hear of an aviator, from any branch of the U.S. military, going down. Sometimes I wish I didn't experience these feelings. But, when I sit back and think about it with my brain instead of my heart, I know it is a good thing. There's a need for people in this country that care about and honor our service members. I know they have family and friends, but I believe more is better.
I recently read in a book, "If you share your pain with someone else, it cuts your own in half". I am aware that I don't know any of these brave airmen, and they will never know that I am sharing their pain with them, but I honestly believe it can't hurt and may be able to help them. I guess it all depends on whether you believe in a common life energy here on Earth or not. I do.
So, as I sit here and type, I am thinking about, and praying for, these four brave airmen. Those airmen that for years have been putting their lives on the line, every time they strap in, to help keep this country free.
God bless you all.
AW2 (AW) (Civ) David "Bull" Westfall
Corporal Jonathan D. Faircloth, an aerial observer with Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 363, Marine Air Group 24, was pronounced dead by the state medical examiner and taken to Tripler Army Medical Center Tuesday night.
Faircloth, 22, of Mechanicsburg, Pa., joined the squadron in April, 2007, and deployed with them to Iraq in 2008 and Afghanistan in 2010. He became a Marine in August, 2006.
Faircloth is survived by his wife, Alicia, two siblings, James and Danielle, and his parents, Dean and Beverly Faircloth, who described their son as a true gentleman and a happy person who loved the Marine Corps and his job.
Faircloth's personal awards include four Air Medals, two Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals, Iraq and Afghanistan Campaign Medals, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and the National Defense Service Medal.
The three HMH-363 crewmen injured during the same emergency landing were pilot Maj. Clinton J. Collins, copilot Capt. Kevin F. Hayles, and crew chief Cpl. Ronnie E. Brandafino. All three Marines were transported to Queen's Medical Center in Honolulu for treatment of their injuries and were last reported in stable condition.
While Hayles has joined the squadron recently, Collins has deployed with HMH-363 once to Afghanistan and Brandafino, who joined the squadron in 2008 deployed with them to Iraq that year and to Afghanistan in 2010. Collins also deployed with HMH-362, also based at MCAS Kaneohe Bay, to Iraq in 2007.
***Thank you, David. You sure know how to say what most of us would like to. That quote was right on ... sharing our pain with others really does cut our own in half. That has been my dream, here in Memoirs.
Hugs to you, my friend,
“I am only one, but I am one. I can't do everything, but I can do something. The something I ought to do, I can do. And by the grace of God, I will.” ~Everett Hale