WAIPAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) – Neighbors who live near Don C. Viray's parents home in Waipahu have nothing but good things to say about the 25-year-old Army pilot.
"You couldn't ask for a better son," one woman said. "He was a great kid. Courageous," she added.
Viray was one of four servicemen killed when a Black Hawk helicopter crashed Thursday in the Helmand province of Afghanistan.
The military newspaper Stars and Stripes identifies the four as Chief Warrant Officer 2 Don Viray, Chief Warrant Officer 2 Nicholas Johnson, 27, San Diego; Spc. Dean Shaffer, 23, Pekin, Ill.; and Spc. Chris Workman, 33, Boise, Idaho.
Viray attended Waipahu High School before transferring during his junior year to Roosevelt High in November 2002. He participated in ROTC at Roosevelt until graduating in June, 2004.
Viray worked as a helicopter mechanic with the Hawaii Army National Guard, and later joined the Army where he fulfilled his dream of serving his country as a pilot.
Viray's father Leo Viray is a retired Army veteran with more than 25 years service.
The Stars and Stripes reports the helicopter carrying Viray, Johnson, Shaffer, and Workman crashed while on a medevac mission to pick up Afghan policemen wounded in a bombing. Other choppers reportedly aborted the mission because of thunderstorms and poor visibility; an indication weather may have been a factor in the accident. The Army is investigating.
Hundreds of soldiers attended a memorial service at Kandahar Air Field for their fallen comrades Monday.
The bodies of the servicemen were returned to American soil when they were flown to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware Sunday. Viray's parents were believed to be at the base when the flight carrying their son's body arrived.