A Lehigh family is mourning the death of their son, who died in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan earlier this month.
The Department of Defense released Monday the names the seven service members who died Aug. 16 in a helicopter crash northeast of Kandahar, Afghanistan.
One of those soldiers, a pilot, was raised in Lehigh Acres where his parents, Glenn and Donna Hornsby, still live.
Chief Warrant Officer Brian D. Hornsby
Chief Warrant Officer Brian D. Hornsby, 37, of Melbourne, was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 25th Aviation Regiment, 25th Combat Aviation Brigade, 25th Infantry Division, Schofield Barracks, Hawaii.
His father said Hornsby grew up here but graduated from high school in North Carolina. While in the Lehigh area, he attended Riverdale High School in nearby Fort Myers.
His father said he later returned to Southwest Florida to attend college at the former USF campus in Fort Myers, now FGCU.
Hornsby is survived by his wife and two children. He was on his second deployment to Afghanistan, according to the Department of Defense.
Hornsby's family was making plans last week for a private memorial service, his father said.
His parents released a statement concerning their son, his achievements, his life, and his death.
"CW3 Brian D. Hornsby was a loving and compassionate husband, father, son, brother and friend who never chose the easy path in life," the statement reads.
"He joined the Army in 1998 as a military policeman with the ultimate dream of becoming a pilot. That dream became a reality in 2001 when he was selected for the Army Warrant Officer and Aviation programs.
The family's official comments also touched on Hornsby's important missions in Europe, Medevac missions in Honduras, air assault missions in Iraq and special operations support missions in Afghanistan during his Army aviation career.
"He was highly respected as 'one of the best of the best pilots' and often requested by name to fly the really tough and dangerous missions," the family statement reads. "He never turned down that special opportunity because he knew it would save the lives of his fellow servicemen."
Hornsby's father said the family appreciates all the support they are being shown. He said this week he is not sure when the private family service would be held, but that his son will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C.
Hornsby has received the Air Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon, NATO Medal and the Senior Army Aviator Badge, according to the Department of Defense.
"Our heartfelt condolences and prayers go out to the families and loved ones of our fallen heroes," said Maj. Gen. Kurt Fuller, commanding general, 25th Infantry Division in a prepared statement. "Although the 25th Combat Aviation Brigade family has suffered a huge loss, they will continue their mission with the utmost courage and resolve."
Six others were killed in the same crash:
- Chief Warrant Officer Suresh N. A. Krause, 29, of Cathedral City, Calif.
- Sergeant Luis A. Oliver Galbreath, 41, of San Juan, Puerto Rico.
- Sergeant Richard A. Essex, 23, Kelseyville, Calif.
- Special Warfare Operator Petty Officer 1st Class Patrick D. Feeks, 28, of Edgewater, Md.
- Special Warfare Operator Petty Officer 2nd Class David J. Warsen.
- Explosive Ordnance Disposal Petty Officer Technician 1st Class Sean P. Carson, 32, of Des Moines, Wash.
The Taliban, a terrorist organization operating in and around Afghanistan, has claimed responsibility.