March 16, 2015

7 Marines tragically killed in Florida helicopter crash

On March 10, 2015, a terrible tragedy occurred in the Santa Rosa Sound on the Florida Panhandle.

A night time training mission out of Eglin Air Force Base was undertaken in which a group of Marines were to practice rappelling down ropes from a helicopter into the water.

The helicopter went down in the ocean off a remote beach between Pensacola and Destin. The beach is owned by the military and is used for test missions.

Seven Marines and four National Guardsmen died in the accident. The cause of the crash is under investigation.

The Special Operations Marines were all from Camp Lejeune in North Carolina.

The National Guardsmen were all from Hammond, Louisiana. Each had served two tours in Iraq and had joined in humanitarian missions after Gulf Coast hurricanes and the 2010 BP oil spill off Louisiana.

Top: Stanford Shaw; Thomas Saunders; Trevor Blaylock; Liam Flynn
Lower: Kerry Kemp; Marcus Bawol; Andrew Seif
Tragically deceased are:

Marine Capt. Stanford H. Shaw III - Age 31. A native of Basking Ridge, New Jersey. Stanford was the captain of the varsity lacrosse team and was the high school student president at Ridge High School. He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 2006. He was deployed to Iraq in 2007 and returned there in 2009. He also saw service in Japan.  He was outgoing and candid. Friends describe him as a great man, a great leader and a great friend.

Marine Staff Sgt. Kerry M. Kemp - Age 27.  A native of Memphis, Tennessee.  He was proud to be a Marine, a husband and a dad. His daughter turns 1 later this month.  He had a sense of humor and was a prankster. He liked to golf and liked the beach. He was a family man. He served in Iraq as a machine gunner and in Afghanistan. His wife, Jenna, stated that he was a proud Marine, a loving husband and a wonderful father.  

Marine Staff Sgt. Marcus "Marc" S. Bawol - Age 26.  He was from Warren, Michigan. He was known as Marc to his family and friends. He was engaged to be married to Erika in October of 2015.  Family stated that he loved the military and describe him as an all-around wonderful man. High school buddies called him "the Patriot" because he was all about doing the right thing. He was in top physical shape and liked hunting. He had served in Afghanistan.  Military comrades describe him as rock steady and a man who accepted responsibility.

Marine Master Sgt. Thomas A. Saunders - Age 33.  Thomas lived in Williamsburg, Virginia. He was born in Bonn, Germany and graduated from high school in Virginia. His deployments included Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan. The Marine Corps Association and Foundation named him the "critical skills operator of the year" in 2014. Military comrades describe him as both bright and aggressive on the battlefield. He was uptempo and a go-getter. He mentored some of the younger men in his unit. He was well respected by his peers. He is survived by his wife and son. 

Marine Staff Sgt. Andrew C. Seif - Age 26. He was originally from Fairbanks, Alaska. His family moved to Michigan when he was a teen. He had served tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. Only a week before his death he had received the Silver Star for conspicuous gallantry while rendering aid in 2012 to a wounded comrade in Afghanistan. He was named the USO's "Marine of the Year" in 2013. Military officials describe him as tenacious, vigorous and sensible. Comrades stated that he didn't take himself too seriously and preferred not to receive a lot of attention. 

Marine Staff Sgt. Trevor P. Blaylock - Age 29. He is originally from Michigan.  He attended Henry Ford Community College before enlisting. He had served two tours of duty in Iraq and one tour in Afghanistan.  Military comrades describe Trevor as a ball of fire who had a sense of humor. He had a lot of expertise as a Special Forces engineer.  He is survived by his wife and two daughters. 

Marine Staff Sgt. Liam A. Flynn - Age 33.  He was originally from County Kildare,
Angels of God, pray for Liam, Stanford, Thomas,
Trevor, Kerry, Andrew and Marcus and for those
who have lost them.
Ireland. He immigrated to Queens, New York soon after 9/11 in 2001 and enlisted in the Marines soon after that. He served one tour of duty in Iraq and two tours in Afghanistan. Military comrades stated that he was even-keeled in combat. His mission was to keep his comrades safe. Friends stated that he loved what he was doing. Liam is survived by his wife, Destiny; their baby daughter; his parents and 9 siblings.

The United States Marines are in mourning over the deaths of their brothers who will be forever remembered.

The loved ones of these men are devastated over their sudden and tragic deaths. They will be forever mourned.

The survivors of these men have suffered an unspeakable loss.

Thank you for your service, Marines. 

Pray for all who die in the service of their country.

Pray for all who die by misadventure. They are with us one moment and are gone before we can say goodbye.

Pray that Liam Flynn, Stanford Shaw III, Thomas Saunders, Trevor Blaylock, Kerry Kemp, Andrew Seif and Marcus Bawol are in heaven. Pray that they are at peace and are with God. Amen.

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