VILLAGE PARK, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The wife of a Navy sailor killed in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan says he was a loving husband and father who grew to love Hawaii.
Sean Carson was a 32-year-old explosive ordnance disposal expert with the Navy. The Washington state native was among seven service members who died when the Black Hawk helicopter they were riding crashed August 16 northeast of Kandahar, Afghanistan.
Four of the dead were soldiers stationed at Schofield Barracks. They were remembered at Schofield during an August 20 visit by Army Secretary John McHugh. "All of us in the Army family are deeply moved by that kind of tragedy, and I can't think of a more appropriate place to extend those condolences than right here in this hall of heroes, because that's what these four soldiers are," McHugh said.
Carson was stationed in Hawaii from 2001 to 2004. While here, he met his wife, Nicole, during what she said was a rare night out in Waikiki.
"I'm at the bar and here comes this big haole boy, walking up to me with his goofy grin," said Nicole Carson. "He was very charming. He was charming to everyone. that's why so many people love him. That's how he got me."
They married in 2004.
Sean Carson was based in San Diego, but his wife and four-year-old daughter, Leila, would stay home in Hawaii. "In San Diego, it's just her and I," said Nicole. "There's no family up there. So we come home because the deployments are so long. This one was supposed to be ten months. it's just easier that way, and at least Sean has peace of mind to know that we're okay."
Sean decided to become an explosive ordnance disposal expert after they wed. "He did not show an interest in EOD until after we were already married. But he had that discussion, and that was something he wanted to do. So I couldn't tell him, 'no.' I didn't want to be that person to hold him back," his wife said.
"It's hard," said Nicole. "It was a hard choice for him to go into what he decided to do, but he loved it and he was good at it. So I'm proud of him for that."
Nicole also said Sean, who was from Des Moines, Wash., didn't like being in Hawaii at first. "But as time passed he grew to love it. He grew to love surfing. The food, of course, the weather.
"This is where he wanted to be," she added. "So we were trying to get back to Hawaii at some point in his career, even if it as after his retirement. So that was our goal."
Nicole wears a silver necklace with two tiny hearts. "This is from Sean. It's supposed to be him and Leila," she said.
"I hardly ever take this one off. This is my favorite one."
Nicole Carson's family has started a fund for Carson's daughter. Donations for "Friends for Leila Carson" can be made at any Bank of Hawaii branch.
Related story: Four Schofield soldiers killed in Afghanistan identified