by Bill Doughty
A Marine aerial observer’s memorial service, a State Senate resolution, an ‘SOS’-in-the-sand rescue and the recovery of a downed helicopter in Kaneohe -- all in the past five days in my home state of Hawaii -- made the week especially poignant during this centennial year for naval aviation.
The memorial service for Cpl. Jonathan Faircloth of Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 363 was held April 7 at Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Kaneohe, Oahu. He lost his life when his CH-53D Sea Stallion helicopter went down on the night of March 29. Three other Marines were injured.
State Senator Will Espero paid tribute to Cpl. Faircloth in a speech on the Senate floor at the State Capitol April 5 during a resolution honoring the Centennial of Naval Aviation.
Last week we experienced the tragic loss of a Kaneohe-based Marine - Corporal Jonathan D. Faircloth, crewmember of the downed CH-53D helicopter. His memorial service will be held on April 7. His death reminds us of the dangers faced by our military service members who put their lives at risk every day on our behalf. Corporal Faircloth was part of the naval aviation family. We join with our Marine Corps and Navy family in mourning his loss.
Naval aviators - Navy and Marine Corps - have put themselves in harm's way for 100 years, training, testing, and - when called upon - fighting to defend freedom... They patrol the skies to defend us.
Naval aviators provide humanitarian relief. They provide support for Pacific Partnership to build peace and prevent war. They are saving lives in Japan...
We want to take this opportunity to recognize, in absentia, the naval aviators, including the "Skinny Dragons" of VP-4 who cannot be here today because they are participating in Operation Tomodachi, helping the people of Japan after the earthquake and tsunami there. This is our opportunity to recognize the courage, sacrifice and support of the families of naval aviators. Representing VP-4 is Mrs. Kathy Newlund, wife of Commanding Officer Navy Commander Steven Newlund... (Speech presented by Hawaii State Sen. Will Espero)
On the same day as Cpl. Faircloth’s memorial service, naval aviators on Kauai responded to an SOS scrawled in the sand at a remote beach off of Kalalau. The pilots and air crewmen from both sides of the Pacific and Hawaii were training at the Pacific Missile Range Facility at Barking Sands.
The aviators responded to a report of the SOS and saw a mirror flash. A Helicopter Antisubmarine Squadron Light HSL-37 SH-60B "Seahawk" helicopter, piloted and crewed by Helicopter Maritime Strike (HSM) Weapons School Pacific, of NAS North Island, Calif., and HSL-51, from Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Japan rescued two women, who were brought back to PMRF for emergency treatment and transported by ambulance to Kauai Veterans Memorial Hospital. The HSL-37 “Easy Riders” are located at Marine Corps Base Hawaii.
On the next day, April 8, back at Kaneohe, Navy divers from Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit One worked to complete the recovery of the downed CH-53D helicopter. The Navy divers worked hand-in-hand with Marines, the Coast Guard and various civilian agencies.
The recovery was successfully completed when the last two huge segments of the downed helicopter were lifted one at a time from a sandbar in Kaneohe Bay, brought safely back to the base and gently set down.
I’m almost finished reading One Hundred Years of U.S. Navy Air Power, edited by Douglas V. Smith, published in tribute to the Centennial of Naval Aviation, one hundred years of courage and commitment, achievement and progress. It will be the next Navy Reads review.
Special thanks to the previous guest review posted last month during Women’s History Month by Nancy Harrity, a friend and strategic thinker who helps us understand future communication now. Nancy headed up the public affairs for the Pacific Partnership humanitarian and civic assistance mission in 2009. (The 2011 mission just launched and can be followed at www.cpf.navy.mil).