Story and photos by Chris Stone
“Lukasiewicz… Captain Lukasiewicz … Captain Dustin R. Lukasiewicz,” sounded the roll call. “Norgren … Captain Norgren … Captain Christopher L. Norgren.”
No reply came; the wind blowing sharply was the only sound. Families wept as their husbands, sons and brothers were no longer there to anwer the roll call Wednesday at Camp Pendleton.
Seated in the front row, young Nathan Johnson clutched a stuffed Marine Teddy Bear.
He and family members were among 700 Marines honoring his father, Sgt. Ward M. Johnson IV, and five others who died in a May 12 UH-1Y Huey helicopter crash during a Nepal rescue operation north of Charikot, Nepal. The Marines were delivering 3,000 pounds of relieve supplies and evacuating people after the earthquake and aftershocks that measured up to 6.3.
Scriptures were read by the chaplain and eulogies were given by fellow Marines, taking about the professionalism, dedication, selflessness and fearlessness of their fallen friends. Helicopters made a flyover during the ceremony.
“Our Marines gave their lives so that others might live,” said Commanding Officer Lt. Col. Edward Powers. “They gave their lives so that the suffering of countless Napalis could be eased.
“I ask that you remember that our Marines died for a cause that was worth dying for in Napal,” Powers said.
“There is nothing senseless about their loss,” Powers continued. “Their last acts were rooted in sacrifice, selfless acts helping fellow human beings who desperately needed their help.”
Chaplain Drayton said that the Marines were aware of the dangers, but they “accepted that they too might have to give up their lives in support of this causes. It spite of the impending reality, these warriors, these men, served anyway.”
The dangerous conditions were explained, “The verticality of the terrain in the Himalayan mountains from 13,000 down to 7,000 feet, combined with a dense forest and visibility limited by weather down to less than one mile is the most difficult terrain conceivable to conduct an aviation operation.”
Those honored were:
- Capt. Dustin R. Lukasiewicz, 29, a native of Harlan, Nebraska.
- Capt. Christopher L. Norgren, 31, a native of Sedgwick, Kansas
- Sgt. Ward M. Johnson IV, 29, a native of Seminole, Florida
- And Sgt. Eric M. Seaman, 30, a native of Riverside, California.
The other two were Cpl. Sara A Medina of Kane, Illinois, 23, and Lance Cpl. Jacob Hug, 22, of Maricopa, Arizona. They were to have services elsewhere.
Lukasiewicz was born in Nebraska and graduated from the University of Nebraska with a degree in Political Science. He was deployed to Afghanistan and Japan. He is survived by his wife, Ashley, his daughter, Isabelle, and his unborn son who is due in June.
Lukasiewicz was said to be “genuinely happy to be a part of the mission, to be doing what he could to help people. He never had any hesitation to do what was right.”
Norgren was born in Kansas and graduated with an aerospace engineering degree from Missouri University of Science and Technology in Rolla, Missouri. Norgren served in Afghanistan. He is survived by his father, Ronald, and his mother, Theresa, and sister, Jennifer.
He was remembered as an “honest, inspirational, fearless, caring” person.
Johnson was born in Florida. He completed a deployment to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Johnson reported to Camp Pendleton and was assigned to Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 469 “Vengeance. He is survived by his wife Haley, and his two sons, Nathan and Noah.
He was eulogized as a “hard-working Marine who challenged his peers to achieve greatness. He truly loved being a Marine and was always there to help a friend.”
Seaman was born in Wildomar, CA. He was deployed to Afghanistan and graduated from the Weapons and Tactics Crew Chief Instructor course and was deployed to Japan. He is survived by his wife, Samantha, his son, Roman, and his daughter, Ryleigh.
Seaman was eulogized as “well prepared for every mission, excelled as a aviator, was fearless and determined yet humble.”
The ceremonies were hosted by Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 469, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, on the flight line at Camp Pendleton.
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