Thursday 14 December 2017

Tragic marine Liam knew the risks, says mum

A wheel and pieces of fuselage from an Army Black Hawk helicopter sit along the shoreline of Santa Rosa Sound near Navarre

THE Irish US marine who died in a helicopter crash told his mother he was fully aware of the risks of his job.

Staff sergeant Liam Flynn (33), from Clane in Co Kildare, was among 11 servicemen who lost their lives following the training ground accident last Tuesday.

Mr Flynn moved to the US in 2002 and enlisted in the marine corps in 2006.

He went on to serve tours in Iraq and Afghanistan and won a number of medals and honours, including a Purple Heart award.

His parents Billy and Ann still live in Clane, and yesterday they attended a memorial service in the parish church along with other family members, friends and representatives from the Irish and US armed forces.

Speaking afterwards, Ann said he went to the US to follow his dream. Her son asked her not to be sad if he died in the line of his duty.

"He always wanted to do it, always. And he was always very happy in his work and would always discuss matters.

"He told me if anything happened to him, that I wasn't to be sad, and he told me that he was going to be buried in Washington," she told RTE.

Mr Flynn's sister Leona said the family was "devastated" by his tragic passing.

Fr Paul O'Boyle said around 1,000 people attended the service where moving tributes were paid to the father-of-one.

"There was a very large turnout of around 1,000 people including his family and people from the local community. But people came from all over the country including Mayo and Tipperary, as well as representatives from the US armed forces and also the Irish Defence Forces," he said.

As part of the service, special gifts were also carried up to the altar, including a Clane GAA jersey, a hurley, and a number of family photos captured in Ireland and in the US.

"The theme of the service was light and darkness. Obviously the light that Liam brought to so many people and his gifts and talents but also the dark period for the family ahead.

"Today's ceremony was about providing support to the family on this difficult journey now," Fr O'Boyle added.

The priest also referenced Dermot Earley who played inter-county football for Roscommon, in addition to his duties with the Defence Forces, and passed away in 2010.

"We also spoke about the late Dermot Earley, who was Ireland's chief of staff, and his creed for life.

"His five concepts were enjoying time with family, giving the best to work, giving back to the community, spending leisure time well, and making time for God in our lives. We felt that was a fitting tribute given Liam's service," he said.


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