National News

Former Black Hawk helicopter pilot recalls surviving crash

Posted August 17

— As crews continue to search for missing soldiers after a Black Hawk helicopter crash near Kaena Point Tuesday night, an army veteran and former Black Hawk helicopter pilot remembers his experience surviving a helicopter crash in Afghanistan.

It's been a long time since Chris Marvin looked at his box of Army mementos. Aside from his awards and his old uniform, Marvin also keeps the rod that was once in his leg and the plates that were once in his arm. As Marvin looked through the box Wednesday afternoon, he pulled out a card that he kept with him the entire time he was in Afghanistan.

"There's a lot of power in prayer and this is something that kind of helped me through one of the toughest times in my life," said Marvin.

Before Marvin left for Afghanistan, his aunt gave him a card with the Prayer to St. Joseph. The card says-- whoever reads this prayer will never die a sudden death or fall into the hands of the enemy.

"I survived a helicopter crash in Afghanistan that was a significant crash, and not everyone on board survived the crash, I was very lucky," said Marvin.

Marvin said 15 people were on board the Black Hawk helicopter when it went down. One person died. It took Marvin years to heal from his injuries, but aside from the power of prayer, he credits a fellow pilot on board for saving the 14 survivors.

"The reason I survived is the actions that were taken by the other pilot on the controls, he was able to bring down the aircraft in a way that saved numerous lives," said Marvin.

Marvin said what that pilot did goes back to training. In Hawaii, much of that training happens on Oahu's North Shore.

"Flying the North Shore is a regular training area for army helicopters based anywhere on Oahu, and there are a couple different challenges," explained Marvin, "number one-- flying over water is always a challenge, and in the military, aviation community they take special precautions when flying over water"

As a former Black Hawk helicopter pilot and platoon leader with 25th Infantry Division's Aviation Brigade, Marvin knows the challenges of flying in Hawaii. He trained on Oahu before his deployment.

"Any time you fly near mountainous terrain, both the unevenness of the terrain and level of light could be a challenge as well as where the wind interacts with the geographic features," said Marvin.

As officials search for the soldiers on board the Black Hawk that went down off Kaena Point, Marvin says it draws attention to the importance of giving members of the armed forces the tools they need to be safe and successful.

"The things that we tend to take for granted in the military is the importance of training, and especially the ability to have our pilots conduct the amount of training necessary and the hours that they need," said Marvin.

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