Too close to home

Published 4:20 pm Thursday, July 13, 2017

Earlier this week, 15 Marines and a Navy sailor lost their lives after a military plane crash in Mississippi. The military hasn’t reported the exact cause of the crash, but officials believe something went wrong at cruising altitude.

Seven of the people who lost their lives were part of a Marine Raider battalion based at Camp Lejeune.

Beaufort County may not have a military base within its borders, but that doesn’t make this tragedy hit any less close to home. Camp Lejeune is about 80 miles away, and residents here may have sons, daughters, aunts, uncles and friends who serve in Jacksonville. For that matter, many residents have loved ones serving at bases all over the United States and abroad.

This week’s events offer a sobering reminder that military service does not come without its dangers, its drawbacks and its tragedies. Those 16 people were heading to a training exercise to prepare for a deployment to the Middle East. They were undoubtedly expecting potential danger overseas, but in the blink of an eye, their lives were lost unexpectedly on American soil.

Every day, servicemen and women put their lives on the line for the American people — millions of total strangers. Their families make sacrifices, as well, through coping with a loved one’s absence, moving on short notice and making sure that loved one has a place to come back.

Retired Navy officer Dick Couch perhaps summed it up best: “They’re in a risky business. It can happen in training or in combat,” he told The Associated Press.

Thank you to our servicemen and women and the selfless sacrifices they make on a daily basis. Just as those 15 Marines and Navy sailor will not be forgotten, neither will those who have already lost their lives or who continue to fight for freedom.