HAMMOND, LA (WVUE) - Louisiana welcomed home another fallen soldier on Tuesday. The body of Chief Warrant Officer 4 David Strother, of Pineville, was carried off the plane Tuesday by fellow members of the Louisiana National Guard. A homecoming procession greeted the fallen soldier.
Strother was one of 11 soldiers killed on March 10 following a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter crash. The crash happened during a routine training exercise off of the Florida panhandle.
The helicopter went down off of Navarre Beach on Santa Rosa Sound, which is a barrier island in the Gulf of Mexico between Pensacola and Destin. Four soldiers involved in the crash were from a Hammond, Louisiana-based National Guard unit. Seven Marines based in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina were also on board when the helicopter went down.
Strother served in the Louisiana National Guard from 1988-2007, and again from 2009 until his death. He deployed to Iraq in 2004-2005, Afghanistan in 2011 and Kosovo in 2014. He also served during state deployments for Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Isaac.
Strother commissioned as a warrant officer in 1994 before going on to become an instructor pilot with over 2,400 flight hours, including more than 700 combat hours.
"To describe Dave Strother as a big personality would not be accurate. He was more like a force of nature that could best be observed and marveled at, never opposed or altered," said Maj. Andre Jeansonne, commander, F Co., 2nd Battalion, 135th Aviation Regiment. "His huge heart touched the lives of all he met."
Strother is survived by his wife, son and step-daughter, and mother.
A visitation ceremony will be held for Strother on Wednesday in Alexandria, Louisiana. A funeral service will be held on Thursday.
The body of Staff Sgt. Lance Bergeron, another Louisiana National Guardsman killed in the helicopter crash, will arrive in Hammond on Wednesday morning.