Thousands honor fallen Coast Guardsmen

Admiral Thad Allen
Admiral Thad Allen

By Duane Shimogawa - bio | email

BARBERS POINT (KHNL)- A couple thousand mourners gather at Air Station Barbers Point before the drop, Friday.

They say goodbye to the dolphin helicopter team, killed during a routine training mission.

Friends and family members paid last respects to the crewmen of the Dolphin Patrol and rescue helicopter.

It was one of the familiar orange and white choppers we all frequently see flying low off island coasts.

A salute to the families of 27-year old Joshua Nichols, 38-year old David Skimin, 42-year old Thomas Nelson and 44-year old Andrew Wischmeier.

They all died aboard a training exercise five miles off Honolulu International Airport on September 4th.

"We know the families are grieving, we know this is something that cannot be reversed, you cannot replace these fragile lives, these guardians, we are here today (Friday) to pay our respects to them and we have done that," Admiral Thad Allen, U.S. Coast Guard Commandant said.

The service included a 21-gun salute, a missing man formation, the coast guard band and the laying of the wreath where the men died.

"You don't expect things like this to happen on a routine training flight, but we do not work in a risk-free environment and we're coming to grips with the fact that it's hard to explain what a crew that good was lost imperiously, unnecessarily," Allen said.

Men and women from all of the armed forces as well as people from Oahu's fire and police services were here to honor fellow public servants who died while training.

"As I told each one of the individual families, these are all very difficult times and and very difficult journeys. my message to them was you are not making it alone," Allen said.

A message felt by all of the more than 40,000 members of the Coast Guard.

Allen says they're conducting two separate investigations. An independent board is looking into what caused the deadly accident. Plus, they're also reviewing training procedures.