12 Marines remembered in solemn memorial - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

12 Marines remembered in solemn memorial

Family and friends gathered Friday at Marine Corps Base Hawaii to remember the 12 Marines killed when two helicopters collided off Oahu's North Shore.

The moving ceremony included eulogies by fellow Marines. Friends shared their favorite memories, and military leaders sought to comfort the bereaved. There were lighthearted moments, and moments when few attendees' eyes were dry.

"Logic cannot help us to understand the details of this tragedy," said Lt. Col. Eric D. Purcell, "but we can lean on each other for support."

At the memorial, each fallen Marine was represented by a single white cross, combat boots, and a helmet.

The Marines were killed last week Thursday, when two CH-53E "Super Stallion" helicopters crashed during a routine night training mission. Multiple county, state and federal agencies searched around the clock by air and by sea for the Marines, battling high surf and covering a widening debris area.

The search was suspended Tuesday, the 12 were officially declared dead on Thursday.

Capt. Matthew Turner told attendees at the ceremony, which was not open to the public, that the day the helicopters collided was a "sorrowful day."

"The rain, the mist, even the waves seemed to express the torment in our hearts," he said. "But today is a beautiful day and the weather is fitting."

The aviators were from the Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 463. To their fellow Marines, they weren't just colleagues, but close friends.

"I'll never forget all the times we laced up our gym shoes together," said one Marine, talking about Sgt. Dillon Semolina. "We've give each other a spot at the gym."

A Marine who spoke about Capt. Brian Kennedy shared this lighthearted, "He would actually make helicopter sounds over the radio while flying. You'd be flying along and all of a sudden you'd hear ca ca ca ca ca."

Purcell told attendees that the Marines were "men who their families and their country relied upon."

"The purpose of a memorial can be debated, but in my opinion a memorial should not only commemorate the lives of the fallen -- the recently departed -- but also serve as the first step in the healing process for those of us who are left behind."

Mobile users: See a slideshow of the memorial here.

Copyright 2016 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.

Powered by Frankly