MWSS-374 constructs memorial to honor fallen pilots
By Lance Cpl. Levi Schultz, Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms
MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. --
Marine Wing Support Squadron 374 unveiled a memorial honoring two Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 169 pilots at the Strategic Expeditionary Landing Field, Jan. 23, 2016.
The support squadron built the memorial to commemorate Maj. Elizabeth Kealey, pilot, and Capt. Adam Satterfield, co-pilot, and unveiled the project on the anniversary of the pilots’ passing following a crash of their Bell UH-1Y Venom Light Utility Helicopter.
“We wanted something to memorialize those pilots because they lost their lives in the line of duty,” said 2nd Lt. Benjamin M. Baltz, combat engineer platoon commander, MWSS-374. “HMLA-169 requested we build the memorial in time for the anniversary.”
Construction for the memorial began months in advance. The memorial, located south of the SELF, stands completed at the location of the mishap.
“We began with all the groundwork before we put in the concrete and created a mold out of plywood,” Baltz said. “The completed memorial is a ten by ten foot pad with [a pedestal] holding a mounted plaque.”
Following the mishap, HMLA-169 held a memorial service in February of 2015 at the [HMLA-169] hanger in which hundreds of Marines from Marine Aircraft Group 39 gathered to pay their respects.
“Their detailed attention to the memorial and charitable contribution will undoubtedly be a location where Vipers can gather and reflect on the lives of Maj. Kealey and Capt. Satterfield,” said Capt. Joseph F. Deignan, pilot, HMLA-169. “On the day of the unveiling, a small contingency of Vipers gathered around the memorial.”
The ten pilots with HMLA-169 attended the unveiling to remember their fallen comrades.
“Their work came at a perfect time for the Viper family,” Deignan said. “With the hard work of MWSS-374, HMLA-169 can continue to move forward in memory of its fallen few.”
Bell UH-1Y Venom Light Utility Helicopter
Capt. Adam Satterfield
Maj. Elizabeth Kealey
Marine Wing Support Squadron 374