The feared loss of these 11 service members offers a painful reminder that sacrifice in the name of service never stops.
The seven special operations Marines and four Louisiana Army National Guard crew members feared dead after their Black Hawk helicopter crashed off Florida’s panhandle Mar. 10 are a reminder of the constant risk service members face at home and abroad, during training and in combat.
It’s still unclear what caused the crash, although there was heavy fog in the location where the aircraft was reported missing around 9:30 p.m. Eastern Time, March 11, according to a CNN report. Military authorities are still describing the response as a search-and-rescue mission, but the Marines and soldiers are presumed dead amid the recovery of debris and human remains.
Although the helicopter didn’t go down from enemy fire or crash in a war zone, these 11 unidentified service members intentionally placed their lives at risk to keep America safe from its enemies. Their routine seven-day training mission was intended to simulate an inherently dangerous amphibious insertion and extraction mission that, like all training, would help improve their effectiveness in combat.
“There is training in all conditions — that’s part of the military mission,” said Eglin Air Force Base spokeswoman Sara Vidoni, CNN reported. “They were out there doing what the military does.”
All of the service members aboard the helicopter have placed themselves at risk countless times before. The National Guard crew members based in Hammond, Louisiana served multiple tours in Iraq and have assisted with Gulf Coast emergencies like hurricanes and the 2010 BP oil spill,reported the Marine Corps Times. The seven Marines from the Marines Special Operations Command based in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina are highly trained for particularly dangerous assignments on land and at sea.
The American public shouldn’t treat these soldiers and Marines with any less reverence than they would for thousands of their peers killed overseas in the past decade. The tragic accident should serve as a lesson to civilians that America’s service members knowingly face danger not just overseas but anywhere they train. In other words, they put themselves in harm’s way virtually all the time.
Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, expressed this sentiment when he called the crash, “a reminder to us that those who serve put themselves at risk, both in training and in combat.”
For making the ultimate sacrifice and reminding the American public of this important lesson, these service members should be recognized as brave heroes rather than merely victims of an unfortunate accident.