HAMMOND, LA (WVUE) - A third fallen Hammond-based National Guardsman returned home Wednesday. Hundreds were on hand to welcome Staff Sgt. Lance Bergeron back to Louisiana.
A deplaning ceremony was held on Wednesday for Bergeron in Hammond, Louisiana.
He 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.
Of the four Hammond-based National Guardsmen killed, three returned to Louisiana for burial. Chief Warrant Officer 4 George David Strother arrived in Hammond on Tuesday and Chief Warrant Officer 4 George Wayne Griffin Jr arrived over the weekend. The fourth Hammond-based solder involved in the crash, Staff Sgt. Thomas Florich, will not return to Louisiana. Florich will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
Bergeron, of Thibodaux, enlisted into the U.S. Marine Corps in 1998 before joining the LANG in 2001 as a Black Hawk repairer. His extensive experience as a qualified enlisted flight instructor, graduate of the aircraft crewmember standardization instructor course, aircraft maintainer course, and warrior leader course made Bergeron a crew chief others aspired to be, according to members of his unit.
The combat veteran deployed to Iraq twice, in 2004-2005 and 2008-2009. Bergeron also served during state deployments for Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Isaac and Operation River Guardian.
According to Sgt. 1st Class Brian Marquez, platoon sergeant, A Co., 1-244th AHB, Bergeron was one of the most qualified crew chiefs in the Guard, with more than 1,300 flight hours, including 377 combat hours.
"Lance was one of the most dedicated crew chiefs that I have ever had the pleasure of serving with during my leadership," Marquez said. "As the senior most standardization crew chief instructor in the Battalion, he was a subject matter expert in his job who exhibited an excitement of learning new skills and educating new unit members on the UH-60 aircraft, pilots and crew chiefs alike.
"Lance was a very family oriented father and husband, and he impacted many in the ranks. He will be greatly missed."
Bergeron is survived by his wife, two children and his parents.