Saturday 20 January 2018

Tributes for Irish US Marine killed in Black Hawk crash

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

Tributes have been paid to a US Marine from Ireland who died in a helicopter crash during a training exercise in Florida.

Staff Sergeant Liam Flynn (33), who had lived in Clane, Co Kildare, before moving to the US in 2002, was among 11 military personnel who died when a Black Hawk helicopter crashed off Florida's Gulf Coast late on Tuesday night.

In a statement, the Marine Corps said the father of one was born in the UK and moved to the US in 2002.

Four years later he enlisted in the Marine Corps and completed basic training in January 2007.


In the same year he took part in his first overseas operation when deployed in the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

On his return, Sgt Flynn attended infantry squad training and in 2009 was deployed as a squad leader in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, the US military codename for the war in Afghanistan.

He served a second tour of Afghanistan in 2012 and was awarded several medals and other honours for his service.

Sgt Flynn lived in New York and is survived by his wife Destiny, his one-year-old daughter Laliane, parents Billy and Ann Flynn and his six sisters and three brothers.

Last night, Clane parish priest Fr Paul O'Boyle said Sgt Flynn had last visited Ireland around four years ago, and added that his parents continued to live a few miles outside Clane.

"He was a very talented young man at all sports, particularly football and hurling," he said.

"He was absolutely very happy in his life and his work, and he loved what he was doing. He was very committed to it."

Fr O'Boyle said the Flynn family were being comforted by friends in the local community.

A memorial Mass is scheduled to take place in Clane parish church at 11.30am tomorrow, while Sgt Flynn's funeral will take place in the US at a later date.

"His family are very well respected and well known in the Clane area," said Fr O'Boyle.

"It's a great shock to the wider area. The local community have been a great support to the family over the last few days."

Representatives from Clane GAA club said Sgt Flynn had played for the club from juvenile grade up to minor level before he left for the US.

"He came from a passionate GAA family and indeed his two sisters played on the ladies' team that got to a Leinster final last year," a club spokesperson said.

Sgt Flynn's death was yesterday officially confirmed by the Marine Corps.

"It is with a heavy heart that US Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command formally announces the names of the seven Marines who died when a US Army UH-60 Blackhawk Helicopter crashed near Eglin, Florida, at approximately 8.30 p.m. March 10, 2015," the corps said in a statement.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the Marines, soldiers and their families as we all mourn this tragic loss of life."

The crash, which also took the lives of four other servicemen, happened in dense fog.


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