Families of Marines missing in Hawaii hold tight to hopes and prayers (+video)
Refusing to give up hope, the families of Marines missing after two helicopters collided off Hawaii are sharing stories of their lost sons.
The 12 Marines that went missing after two helicopters collided during a training mission off the coast of Hawaii late Thursday have been identified.
Ranging in rank from lance corporal to major and calling towns from Massachusetts to Oregon home, the identities of the Marines have begun to take shape in the days since the nighttime collision over the Pacific.
Lance Cpl. Ty Hart, from Stayton, Ore., lives on base in Hawaii with his wife, his high school sweetheart whom he married six months ago, the Oregonian reports.
Lance Corporal Hart's former high school football coach and teacher, Alan Kirby, told the newspaper that Hart is "a positive kid who always had a smile on his face and called him a quick learner on the gridiron."
Families of two men, both from Pennsylvania, said they are hoping the search and rescue effort will be successful.
Sgt. Adam Schoeller's relatives said they are remaining optimistic as the search continues.
"There are thousands praying for a positive outcome for these Marines and the search and rescue efforts," Sergeant Schoeller's family said in a statement. "We value all of the thoughts and prayers offered up on our behalf during this very difficult time."
Schoeller and his wife, Samantha Wickel-Schoeller, were married on July 4, the statement said.
William Kennedy, of Malvern, Penn., said his son Capt. Brian T. Kennedy was from the suburban Philadelphia community. "This is where he grew up and went to high school, but since he graduated from the Naval Academy, he's been on assignment," he said.
Cpl. Thomas J. Jardas is the younger brother of the reigning Miss District of Columbia. Miss D.C. executive director Tricia Lloyd says Haely Jardas flew home to Florida on Saturday to be with her family. The organization is asking that her privacy be respected.
Maj. Shawn M. Campbell holds a degree in microbiology from Texas A&M, but his mother, Donna McGrew, said in a statement that her son accepted a commission following his graduation and became a career Marine. She described the father of four as a "great dad whose kids love him and he's wonderful husband."
She told the Houston Chronicle that Campbell served three tours of duty in the Middle East, the last in Iraq. He returned to the United States to be a flying instructor in Pensacola, Fla., and had transferred to Hawaii about two years ago.
Cpl. Matthew R. Drown joined the Marines shortly after graduating from high school in suburban Houston in 2011. His family issued a statement asking for privacy to "deal with the very difficult situation," adding that they have to remain hopeful of his rescue for his sake and others on the downed aircraft.
Mr. Drown's former high school English teacher, Yvette Stuckey, told the Houston Chronicle she remembered Drown as a shy freshman, but that he came out of his shell as he grew, eventually participating in debate tournaments.
The uncle of Minnesota-native Sgt. Dillon J. Semolina said the 24-year-old wants to be a registered nurse when he leaves the Marines. "He was waiting to hear from a school he had applied to and was hoping to hear next week," said his uncle, Ryan Bachand.
A GoFundMe page to raise money to send Semolina's parents to Hawaii to be near where Semolina went missing had raised more than $12,500 from 266 people by early Monday.
Cpl. Christopher Orlando's family said in a statement released Saturday by the Massachusetts State Police that they are thankful to everyone for their love, concern and prayers. Orlando is a flight crew chief and a 2010 high school graduate from Hingham, a Boston suburb.
Prior to joining the Marines, Mr. Orlando was a counselor at a surf camp in Hull, Mass. The South Shore Surf Camp referred to him as a "camp legend" in a Facebook post.
"He is mentally and physically strong with the ocean experience and skills needed to survive anything Mother Nature can throw at him."
The family of Capt. Kevin Roche praised rescuers for trying to find him and the other Marines aboard the helicopters. "We believe the Marines and Coast Guard are doing everything they can to bring Kevin and his fellow Marines home safely, and we are grateful to everyone involved in the rescue," said a family statement distributed by brother-in-law Anthony Kuenzel in St. Louis.
The search effort includes a Navy warship, a Coast Guard cutter, several helicopters, jet ski teams and dozens of Marines combing the shoreline, and has covered more than 18,000 square miles, the Coast Guard said in a news release.
There has been no sign of any survivors, Coast Guard Capt. Jim Jenkins said at a news conference Sunday evening, adding that the search and rescue effort was still active.
"We are dedicated to trying to locate and bring those service members back," he said.
The official list of the missing Marines is:
— Maj. Shawn M. Campbell, College Station, Texas.
— Capt. Brian T. Kennedy, Philadelphia
— Capt. Kevin T. Roche, St. Louis
— Capt. Steven R. Torbert, Florence, Alabama
— Sgt. Dillon J. Semolina,Chaska, Minnesota
— Sgt. Adam C. Schoeller, Gardners, Pennsylvania
— Sgt. Jeffrey A. Sempler, Woodruff, South Carolina
— Sgt. William J. Turner, Florala, Alabama
— Cpl. Matthew R. Drown, Spring, Texas
— Cpl. Thomas J. Jardas, Fort Myers, Florida
— Cpl. Christopher J. Orlando, Hingham, Massachusetts
— Lance Cpl. Ty L. Hart, Aumsville, Oregon