The Department of Defense announced Monday, Aug. 20 the death of seven service members who were supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. They died Aug. 16 in a helicopter crash northeast of Kandahar, Afghanistan. One man had been raised in Lehigh Acres. His wife lives in Melbourne, Fla.
Among those killed was former Lehigh resident Chief Warrant Officer Brian D. Hornsby, 37, of Melbourne, assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 25th Aviation Regiment, 25th Combat Aviation Brigade, 25th Infantry Division, Schofield Barracks, Hawaii.
Hornsby's parents live in Lehigh. His father, Glenn, said Hornsby grew up in Lehigh but graduated from high school in North Carolina. While in the Lehigh area, he attended Riverdale High School in nearby Fort Myers.
CWO Brian D. Hornsby
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 a wife and two children. He was on his second deployment to Afghanistan, according to the Dept. of Defense. His wife could not be contacted by a reporter in Melbourne last week.
CWO Hornsby's family was making plans last week for a private memorial service, his father said.
Hornsby's parents, Glenn and Donna Hornsby of Lehigh, released a statement that expressed what their son meant to them. They said it was easier during this difficult time to make one statement so they would not have to talk to all the media in the area.
The statement follows:
"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 read.
"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 read. "He never turned down that special opportunity because he knew it would save the lives of his fellow servicemen."
Hornsby's father told The Lehigh Acres Citizen that the family appreciated all the support they were being shown. He said he was not sure last week when the private family service would be held, but he said his son would be buried in Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C.
The death of Hornsby marks the fourth death in the two wars from the Lehigh and Alva Area.
The Defense Department said 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.
Maj. Gen. Kurt Fuller, commanding general, 25th Infantry Division said, "Our heartfelt condolences and prayers go out to the families and loved ones of our fallen heroes. Although the 25th Ciombat 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, which the Taliban claimed responsibility included:
- 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.