The Department of Defense released on Monday the names of the seven service members who died Aug. 16 in a helicopter crash northeast of Kandahar, Afghanistan.
One man had been raised in Lehigh Acres.
Chief Warrant Officer Brian D. Hornsby, 37, of Melbourne, was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 25th Aviation Regiment, 25th Combat Aviation Brigade, 25th Infantry Division, Schofield Barracks, Hawaii.
Hornsby's parents, Glenn and Donna Hornsby, who still live in Lehigh, released a statement Tuesday.
"CW3 Brian D. Hornsby was a loving and compassionate husband, father, son, brother and friend who never chose the easy path in life," the statement reads. "He joined the Army in 1998 as a Military Policeman with the ultimate dream of becoming a pilot. That dream became a reality in 2001 when he was selected for the Army Warrant Officer and Aviation Programs."
The family's comments also touched on Hornsby's VIP missions in Europe, medevac missions in Honduras, air assault missions in Iraq and special operations support missions in Afghanistan during his Army aviation career.
"He was highly respected as 'one of the best of the best pilots' and often requested by name to fly the really tough and dangerous missions," the statement read. "He never turned down that special opportunity because he knew it would save the lives of fellow servicemen."
His father said Hornsby grew up in Lehigh but graduated from high school in North Carolina. He attended Riverdale High School in Fort Myers.
He later returned to Southwest Florida to attend college at the former USF campus in Fort Myers, now FGCU.
He was on his second deployment to Afghanistan.
Chief Warrant Officer Hornsby was married with two young children. His family is now making plans for a private memorial service in Melbourne.
Six others were killed in the same crash:
- Chief Warrant Officer Suresh N. A. Krause, 29, of Cathedral City, Calif.
- Sergeant Luis A. Oliver Galbreath, 41, of San Juan, Puerto Rico
- Sergeant Richard A. Essex, 23, Kelseyville, Calif.
- Special Warfare Operator Petty Officer 1st Class Patrick D. Feeks, 28, of Edgewater, Md
- Special Warfare Operator Petty Officer 2nd Class David J. Warsen
- Explosive Ordnance Disposal Petty Officer Technician 1st Class Sean P. Carson, 32, of Des Moines, Wash.