Sunday, June 1, 2008

Osprey Fly By Concludes Memorial Dedication


Saturday, the Osprey Memorial Foundation held its dedication and reception at the museum. Their monument is pictured above.

The Osprey Memorial is dedicated to those who lost their lives while testing this hybrid air craft for the Marine Corps. Those names engraved on the monument include the two crews lost in 2008.

My thoughts observing all their friends and supporters gather at the museum for the dedication ceremony, which was moved indoors due to inclement weather, ran bitter sweet.

Earlier in the day, I met the parents and aunt and uncle of Keith Kelly, who was the crew chief on the Osprey that was lost in April of 2000. He was just 22 years old. His mom and aunt were wearing pins with a picture of Keith in the middle. I noticed the pins, couldn't quite make out what they said, but asked if they were there for the memorial dedication. They were and I asked them who their familiy member was and they told me.

I got excited. Yes, I got excited because I knew they were coming and I was just excited to meet family members associated with the names on the monument. I cheerfully said, "Gosh, its so good to meet you, I hope you enjoy your visit and I'm so glad you are here..." and instantly it hit me and I said, "I'm just sorry about the circumstances."

There was emotion being swallowed back by the family. His father asked me if I knew where the memorial was. I sure did. Again, that excited to tell a guest were something is lit me up - - and then I got sad again as I described where it was.

"Its in the back of the museum, " my brain was screaming at me, they don't want to know its all the way in the back, who wants to know their child's monument is 'in the back' where no one can see it. However, the other half of my brain yelled back, 'but that is where it is'. I described in detail where it was and how to get to it. I hadn't quite figured out why it was where it was.

I did learn, during the dedication ceremony that its current location is temporary. It all makes sense now. As they complete the switch back trails, construction on the road and chapel, they will be able to move it to its permanent location along the trail.

I also got the chance to meet Anne Murphy, the mother of Major Michael Murphy, one of the pilots on the second aircraft that crashed in December 2000. Mrs. Murphy is the president of the Osprey Memorial Foundation. She and her husband Bud, have led the drive to raise funds for the memorial. When the memorial was installed, I sent the Osprey Memorial Foundation photos of it. I wasn't sure if they knew it was up or not - - however, I'm sure the museum notifies organizations as soon as they are about ready to put their stones up. What a kind lady, she sent me a thank you note and asked me to tell her about myself and how I got involved in the museum - - I think I was good and kept the response short and sweet.

She has since sent me a few e-mails with links to news articles in their local paper about the monument and about the memorial's dedication. It was so nice to meet her. She gave me a big hug and told me it was nice to meet me and that I looked like a sweet girl. Then she had to run to get pictures taken with family and friends.

I hope they aren't feeling a big "let down" today, now that everything is over. All that work and planning for this moment and its done.

One thing that tugged at my heart as I photographed the family members seated in the crowd was how much life changes in 10 years. Widows have re-married, little boys and girls who would never see their dads again are now young men and women. I wondered what their thoughts were as they sat there and listened to other Marines speak of their parents. Were they angry? Did they want to be there? Life has moved on.

Below are photos and video from the early evening event.


Above, the family members and special guests listen to remarks.


I like the photo above because it shows the history of Marine Corps aviation, the JN-4G up front was the first modern air craft the Marine Corps owned and is what WW1 pilots trained in; the first Harrier AV-8B the Marine Corps owned; the HRS-1 Chickasaw, the first helicopter used by Marines to carry troops into battle during the Korean war.

Below, the weather improved, so they were able to do the Osprey fly-over. These are all the guests taking position to watch.


The first fly-over, you can hear them before you can see them. The name of their squadron "Thunder Chickens" is sure fitting. This is in helicopter mode.

The second fly over is done in fixed wing mode.

And finally, I will leave you with Heartland performing their song "The Few The Proud With Wings", a tribute song they wrote specifically for the fallen Osprey Marines.

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