Incident Date 20030519 HMM-364 CH-46E - BuNo 156424+ / PF-03 - - combat operations - Shatt Al Hillah Canal, Iraq
White, Aaron Dean SSgt Crew Chief HMM-364 MAG-39/ 3rd MAW
Ryan, Timothy Louis 1stLT Co-Pilot HMM-364 MAG-39/ 3rd MAW
Moore, Jason William LCpl Gunner HMM-364 MAG-39/ 3rd MAW
LaMont, Andrew David Capt Pilot HMM-364 MAG-39/ 3rd MAW
Straseskie, Kirk Allen Sgt Grnd Casualty 1/4/1stMarDiv 2003-05-19
Official USMC Source
MAG-39 remembers Marines killed in helicopter crash
Submitted by: 3d Marine Aircraft Wing
Story Identification #: 200361343334
Story by Army Pfc. Bronwyn M. Meyer, 367th MPAD
KUWAIT (May 24, 2003) -- Service members gathered in a maintenance hangar May 24 to honor and remember five Marines died May 19 while supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Capt. Andrew D. LaMont, 32, San Diego, Calif., Capt. Timothy L. Ryan, 30, St. Louis, Mo., Staff Sgt. Aaron D. White, 27, Oklahoma City, Okla., and Lance Cpl. Jason W. Moore, 21, San Diego, Calif., from Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 364, were killed when their CH-46E Sea Knight crashed in the Shatt Al-Hillah Canal near Al-Hillah, Iraq. Sgt. Kirk Straseskie, from Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, also died when he drowned while trying to rescue the crew.
The squadron commander of the "Purple Foxes" spoke proudly of the crew.
"Today we honor four of our best and brightest warriors while feeling deep sorrow for the loved ones left behind," said Lt. Col. Ronald Radich, HMM-364 commanding officer. "These magnificent young men embodied the highest qualities of what it means to be a Marine."
Radich had worked with the four Marines and shared fond memories he had of them.
"As their commanding officer I cherish with a fatherly pride the memories of great things they have done," he said. "They fought valiantly for our country during war - protecting and ensuring the freedoms that we cherish so much back at home."
Four Marines from HMM-364 gave touching eulogies for the Marines, highlighting how much they all would be missed and talking about the families they left behind.
To one side of the hanger, near an exit, was a metal folding chair draped with cloth. On it set pictures of the Marines in a wooden frame. After the service, a group crowded around the display to pay homage. In turn, each Marine knelt, took a few quiet moments to gaze on their lost brothers.
On the opposite side, near the front and next to the color guard, stood four rifles with their barrels pointed to the earth. On the stock of the rifles rested black flight helmets, the visors raised. When the service was over, a Marine was seen to approach the memorial, kneel, and take a few moments to pray.
The executive officer of MAG-39 explained the reason why these men had gone on mission after mission throughout the conflict without hesitation - why they had become Marines.
"The only way for evil men to triumph is for good men to do nothing," said Lt. Col. Michael Hudson, MAG-39 executive officer, quoting Edmund Burke. "These Marines were here because for them doing nothing was not an option."
The Marines from HMM-364 were conducting a re-supply mission in support of civil military operations when their helicopter went down.
Official USMC Source
Pendleton mourns 4 lost in copter crash
Marines were first “Purple Foxes” killed in action since Vietnam War
Lance Cpl. Matthew S. Richards
CAMP PENDLETON -- A former comrade of four aviators who gave their lives last week serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom speculated during their memorial service Thursday that their approach to the gates of heaven was “audacious.”
He cited the brashness of one of them as he described his vision to about 300 family members, friends and fellow service members who turned out at the Marine Memorial Chapel.
“He would have formed up the Marines outside and marched them right up to the gates,” Master Gunnery Sgt. James A. Bixler said, referring to Staff Sgt. Aaron D. White, who died along with Capt. Andrew D. Lamont, 1st Lt. Timothy L. Ryan and Lance Cpl. Jason W. Moore May 19 when their CH-46E Sea Knight helicopter crashed in Iraq. The four were all members of Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 364, known as the “Purple Foxes” -- and were the first Marines from the squadron killed in action since the Vietnam War.
Bixler, the maintenance chief for HMM-364, said the other 62 Purple Foxes who died in combat must have greeted the newcomers with a brand-new “phrog” (a common nickname for the CH-46) for them to fly as “much as you want, because it’s forever young, just as you are.”
Alluding to a verse in the Marine’s Hymn, Bixler envisioned dialogue between White and the gatekeeper.
”St. Peter would have told (White) to march them on toward the guard shack and report to St. Michael.”
”St. Peter, we don’t guard streets, we fly phrogs.”
“That’s the way he was,” Bixler said. “He was full of audacity and perseverance.”
Ryan also was described as having a firm will.
First Lt. Ben M. Davenport said Ryan was stoic and always saying “suck it up, let’s go” to spur on his Marines.
“When we first showed up in Kuwait, everyone wanted to ride the bus, but (Ryan) wanted to walk. So I let him walk, a lot of the times by himself,” Davenport said.
”(Ryan) possessed a courage that belonged solely to him,” he added.
Some speakers paused to gather themselves. Their sobs echoed softly throughout the chapel.
Sgt. Travis D. Pfister, a maintenance controller with HMM-364, said it was “hard to keep a straight face around (Moore).”
”He always had a smile on his face that made you wonder what he was up to, then you didn’t want to know,” Pfister said.
Lamont also was described as a man who loved to smile. Capt. Glenn H. Van Airsdale, a pilot with HMM-364, said Lamont was always “the first to lead the way in a practical joke.”
On one occasion in Iraq, they were picking up a wounded Marine. Lamont gave the Marine a Purple Foxes signature card that said, “at least you ain’t walking.”