Hammond community remembers National Guardsmen killed

HAMMOND, LA (WVUE) - It's been a somber few days at the Crescent Bar in downtown Hammond. According to owner Rickie Brocato, the bar was a favorite hang-out spot for the Louisiana National Guardsmen killed in last week's crash.

"It's a sad thing. The community's mourning it as a group," Brocato said.

Brocato asked around, but wasn't entirely sure who was among the casualties. Monday morning, with the release of the names, Brocato says it brings a small amount of closure. "We can identify with whose involved, whose family is involved, and now we're going forward to see how we as friends in the community handle that and support them through this," Brocato explained.

Chief Warrant Officer 4 George Griffin Jr. lived in Hammond, with his wife, and four children. Brocato says of his friend, "Over the years I've gotten to know him and I just know by his demeanor and the way he acted, I said, he's got to be a great family man, got to be."

Commander Patrick Bossetta says all four were tremendous human beings, who had extensive experience flying, and would do anything for their country. "I'd have put my son in the back of that aircraft, I just don't have a better crew," Bossetta said.

The youngest of the group, Staff Sergeant Thomas Florich, lived in Baton Rouge with his wife. She's expecting their first child. Bossetta says of Florich, "You how some people can infect you with a smile and infect you with a look? Tom Florich was that guy."

Staff Sergeant Lance Bergeron was well known for his love of LSU. "Lance Bergeron, you walk into his house, it's painted purple and gold," Bossetta said.

Chief Warrant Officer 4 David Strother, is described by Bossetta, as a force of nature.

Despite the pain and loss the community is feeling, Rickie Brocato says he can only imagine how difficult it is for the families of the four men, and their brothers, like Patrick Bossetta, left behind.

Brocato says, "These guys are tight. We think we know them but they're like they're own family and brotherhood right there."

A brotherhood that lived, fought and died, together.

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