HAMMOND, LA (WVUE) - People in the Hammond community said even if they did not know the four Louisiana Guardsmen who were killed in this week's Army helicopter crash, they feel like they were a part of their family.
Outside the National Guard Base in Hammond, residents stuck flowers and ribbons into the gate surrounding the military establishment. Gayle Coppinger was one of them.
" We wanted to come and pay our respects to the families and to the gentlemen that were lost. I know they've only found two, but they put their lives on the line for us every day, so we just felt like we should do something back," Coppinger said.
Seven Marines from Camp LeJeune were also on board the Black Hawk that is part of the National Guard unit in Hammond. The crash occurred during a training mission. Some in Hammond said Thursday that a dark cloud seemed to be hovering over the area.
"I know it has on me because I've felt down, you know, just depressed that we've had people from the community gone, you know. I know it's going to be hard on the families just to have an accident happen, and then you kind of expect it if you're over in the war," said Coppinger.
"If they were from anywhere it was still heartbreaking, but when it's closer to home it hits a little bit harder," resident Shelly Lavergne said.
She said her son has talked to members of the National Guard as he expresses interest in the military.
"It was pretty devastating. It shook everybody up. I know at the schools they've been discussing it and everything, it was pretty heartbreaking," Lavergne said.
Miles away, dozens gathered in Baton Rouge for candlelight vigil.
Louisiana National Guard officials said they are heartbroken and shocked by the deadly accident. The air crew was described as very experienced, and now the communities of Hammond and Baton Rouge are sharing in the military's pain.