(Mobile, Alabama)--The bodies of two crew members from a crashed Coast Guard helicopter were recovered Thursday night form Mobile Bay, the Coast Guard said. Pilot Dale Taylor and Co-Pilot Thomas Cameron were found near the crash sight at the bottom of Mobile Bay. Authorities say Drew Knight, a Coast Guard mechanic on board the doomed chopper, is still missing. Chief Petty Officer Fernando Jorge, a swimmer for the crew was found unresponsive the day of the crash and later declared dead. He was one of the first known casualties of this tragedy.
It's a heartbreaking headline that has folks along the Gulf Coast praying for the victim's families. Soon I would discover prayers and a tremendous amount of outpouring was also coming from my own family. Surprisingly, a story I assumed I had no connection to suddenly hit "close to home!"
A family member who used to live in the Palmer Woods, a subdivision in Semmes called me from New Jersey Tuesday night to tell me the pilot who perished in the crash was his neighbor. Across the miles my cousin, who is more like my little brother helpless watched with the rest of us, as our worst fears became reality. My cousin would ultimately learn the man at the helm of the downed Coast Guard's helicopter Dale Taylor, was one of his closest neighbors from his old neighborhood.
That night my cousin shared this photo released by Dale Taylor's wife of their family. My grieving relative also shared something else I wasn't expecting, a "story behind the story!" He recalled Taylor as a doting husband and father who always had a smile and a kind word. This week, the Coast Guard pilot is being remembered by those still living in this closed-knit community as "one of the nicest guys". Anytime I was out cutting my grass in the "sweltering" heat he immediately would come over and ask, "Can I help?" It's a real shame. "He was really good guy," is how my cousin, an officer in the Air Force remembered this fallen hero.
Everyday God issues a lesson in life and today this tragic story is mine. What I know for sure...everyday servicemen and women like Dale Taylor put their lives on their line protecting our borders by land, sea and air. So the next time you see a service member making it home at the end of a long tour in the Middle East or at the end of a long day of training where you live, take the time to tell them "thank you" for all they do in keeping us safe because you never know when it might be your last.