Family and friends came together to dedicate a memorial to the eleven service members killed nearly two years ago in a Blackhawk helicopter crash in Santa Rosa County. The chopper crashed in the Santa Rosa Sound in March 2015.
Seven Marines and four Soldiers died, and it took some time to pull the mangled helicopter out of the water. A permanent memorial was unveiled Friday morning near the site of the crash.
The dedication began with folded hands and bowed heads. A large group gathered to pay tribute to the fallen and comfort their families. The crash happened over a year ago, but it’s still fresh on many minds.
“People heard during the night that something had happened and of course, it had been foggy for two weeks, three weeks… It was an eerie night,” Norm Crowder, who lives in Navarre.
After a few politicians and military members spoke, they revealed the memorial.
“Humbled… I am humbled by it,”said William Swain, a family member of one of the deceased. “It’s just wonderful what they’ve done. Just super. Words can’t express it, it’s just great.”
The same community who came together to find the soldiers and marines now comes together to honor their service. Sgt Rich Aloy is a member of the leadership class who funded the statue and was also on the beach aiding in the recovery efforts.
“I just had the distinct pleasure of speaking to one of the mothers of one of the pilots and the brother,” Sgt Aloy said. “That really… Helped me and also some of the other classmates… You can’t say to bring closure, but to comfort us.”
Now, the community has a permanent marker to honor the eleven servicemen who made the ultimate sacrifice.