Call it a mother's intuition, or just 22 years of experience as a military wife, but when two U.S. Army National Guard colonels arrived at her Clinton home Thursday, Diane Abercrombie already knew what they had come to say.
Her son, Spc. Bryan P. Abercrombie, who celebrated his 22nd birthday last Sunday, was among the five U.S. Army soldiers who died Wednesday in a helicopter crash in central Honduras. The Army confirmed recovery of his body Thursday afternoon.
"We've talked about it (as a family) as we all kind of had that feeling. . . . I think Bryan was trying to let us know," Diane Abercrombie said Saturday. "So, when the Army showed up, we were basically expecting them."
The Abercrombies had been expecting to see their son next Friday. For the first time since joining the Army more than three years ago, Bryan was coming home for Christmas.
"So we're going to have a funeral instead," his mother said, her voice breaking.
Services will be Dec. 20 in Barberton, Ohio, where the family is originally from. Interment will follow at Ohio Western Reserve National Cemetery in Rittman, Ohio. The family also is planning a memorial service at Hill Air Force Base but no details were available Saturday.
Investigators from the U.S. Army Safety Center at Fort Rucker, Ala., are investigating the crash, which occurred about 40 minutes after taking off into the mountains near Santa Cruz de Yojoa, 85 miles north of Tegucigalpa, Army authorities said.
The soldiers were assigned to Joint Task Force Bravo, the U.S. military command that conducts training, counter-drug and humanitarian missions in Central and South America and the Caribbean.
Among those killed with Abercrombie were Spc. Luke A. DeGroff, 22, of Panama City, Fla.; Chief Warrant Officer Jonathan C. Helman, 30, of McConnellsburg, Pa.; Chief Warrant Officer Maurice A. Lammie, 34, of New Jersey; and Sgt. 1st Class Anthony L. Sieng, 38, of Maryland. Hometowns were not available for Lammie or Sieng.
Bryan Abercrombie was beginning his second year stationed in Honduras, Diane Abercrombie said. A helicopter crew chief, he wanted to train as a warrant officer so he could pilot the crafts.
A graduate of Clearfield High School, Bryan spent three years in Jr. ROTC, continuing while he attended Weber State University. Unsure about an academic path, he quit college after just one year and enlisted in the Army, his mother said.
"He was just antsy," she said. "Knowing my son, if everything had worked out, he would have made (the Army) his career."
The youngest of four Abercrombie children, Bryan Abercrombie was the kind of person who always knew everyone and was loved by everyone he knew, his mother said.
"He would come across sometimes as kind of a tough guy, but he had the biggest heart," she said. "He would do anything for anybody."
But more than anything, he loved serving his country. In his honor, the family has established a scholarship for students enrolled in Jr. ROTC at Clearfield High. Contributions can be made to the Bryan Abercrombie Scholarship Fund at any America First Credit Union."We're hoping that it will grow and be self-sustaining. We're hoping it will outlive all of us," Diane Abercrombie said. "We know he would want that."
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