Guardsmen killed in training crash identified
NEW ORLEANS - National Guard officials in Louisiana released the names of four Guardsmen who died in a helicopter training crash last week.
The four Guard members died when their UH-60M Black Hawk crashed into the Santa Rosa Sound in Florida. The guard identified them as Chief Warrant Officer 4 George Wayne Griffin Jr, 37; Chief Warrant Officer 4 George David Strother, 44; Staff Sgt. Lance Bergeron, 40; and Staff Sgt. Thomas Florich, 26.
"These Guardsmen represent the best of us," said Maj. Gen. Glenn H. Curtis, the adjutant general of the Louisiana National Guard. "These are brave men, true men."
Griffin, of Delhi, joined the Louisiana National Guard in 1994. He deployed to Iraq in 2004-2005 and again in 2008-2009. He also served during state deployments during Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Isaac as well as in support of Operations River Guardian and Deepwater Horizon.
Strother, of Alexandria, served in the Louisiana National Guard from 1988-2007, and again starting in 2009. He deployed to Iraq in 2004-2005, Afghanistan in 2011 and Kosovo in 2014. He also served during state deployments for Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Isaac.
Bergeron, of Thibodeaux, enlisted into the U.S. Marine Corps in 1998 before joining the LANG in 2001 as a Black Hawk repairer. He deployed to Iraq twice, in 2004-2005 and 2008-2009. Bergeron also served during state deployments for Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Isaac and Operation River Guardian.
Florich, of Fairfax County, Virginia, enlisted in the LANG in 2007 as a Black Hawk repairer. He was posthumously promoted from sergeant to staff sergeant. Florich served during state deployments for Operation Deepwater Horizon and Hurricane Isaac.
Military investigators said the four Guard members and seven Marines based out of Camp Lejeune died when their helicopter went down in heavy fog on March 10. All four Guard members were highly decorated and experienced according to the Louisiana National Guard.
Work continued Monday to raise the helicopter's wreckage. The crash is being investigated by the U.S. Army Combat Readiness Center, based in Fort Rucker, Alabama.
More on the fallen Guard members can be found by clicking here.