Friend talks about guardsman
BATON ROUGE - Holding back tears, Mitch Burton talked about his best friend who died in a Black Hawk helicopter crash off the coast of Florida.
Burton talked candidly about Tom Florich. Florich and three other Louisiana National Guardsmen died last week. Seven Marines were also killed in the crash.
The National Guard released the names of the four soldiers earlier Monday.
"I'd say he was a hero. I always looked up to him like that," Burton said.
"Knowing Tom, he would say he was just doing his job. He protected us here and did what he was supposed to do. I've come to terms with what he was doing that day. He died doing what he loved," he said.
Burton spoke as he sat at a table with a picture of Florich.
"The jovial person that you see in all the pictures, that was who he was. He was never mad. No one hated him," he told WBRZ reporter Troy Gaulden in an interview that first aired Monday night on WBRZ News 2 at 10:00.
Florich was going to celebrate his one-year wedding anniversary soon and he and his wife were expecting a child, Burton said.
"We're just going to have to let go one day at a time and hope that his family can cope with it and be with them when they need us."
Florich lived in Baton Rouge with his wife. Burton said he enjoyed attending LSU football games and Sundays were spent watching the Saints in the fall.
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