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Remembering Marines Who Died On A Mission Of Mercy In Nepal

Nepalese villagers wave after collecting aid dropped by an Indian helicopter in Khanigaun, Nepal.
David Ramos
Getty Images
Nepalese villagers wave after collecting aid dropped by an Indian helicopter in Khanigaun, Nepal.

What kind of man or woman risks their lives for strangers?

Eric Seaman of Murrieta, Calif., was 30. He had two children, and was a U.S. Marine sergeant. His wife, Samantha Seaman, told CNN, "Last week I got an email telling me that he felt purpose and that he delivered 10,000 pounds of rice ... and I know that right before he passed away, I know that he helped somebody."

Sara Medina was 23. She enlisted in the Marines just out of high school in Aurora, Illinois, and served in South Korea, South America and Okinawa.

"She liked to travel," Cpl. Medina's father, Luis Medina, told the Daily Herald. "She liked to help other people to find a better future."

Dustin Lukasiewicz was a pilot, from Wilcox, Nebraska, married, with a daughter, and another child on the way.

He is the Marine captain you might have seen in news interviews, explaining how their Huey helicopter threaded through steep mountain trails in Nepal to bring rice and tarpaulin — food and shelter — to small, shattered villages in the wake of this month's earthquake and aftershocks that have killed more than 8,000 people.

Christopher Norgren was 31, from Wichita, Kan., also a Marine captain and a pilot, who sent Instant Messages to his mother on Mother's Day after she said she was worried.

"I'm not really worried about danger, Mom," his mother says he wrote back. "That's what I signed up for. Just looking forward to helping people."

Sgt. Mark Johnson was the helicopter's crew chief. He was 29, from Altamonte Springs, Fla., loved camping and surfing, and his mother told the Orlando Sentinel that after three overseas deployments, and with a wife and two children, he thought about leaving the Marines for a job in security.

Lance Cpl. Jacob Hug was from Phoenix. He turned 22 in Nepal, while delivering food, medicine and shelter. His Uncle John told the Arizona Republic he needed money for college, and wanted to see the world.

"He wanted to be a Marine," John Hug said. "That's what he wanted and there was no talking him out of it."

Two Nepalese soldiers, Tapendra Rawal and Basanta Titara, also died when that U.S. Marine helicopter they were riding to bring food and shelter to those who were hungry and cold crashed last week.

This weekend, their deaths — and lives — remind us that anyone who puts on a military uniform is in harm's way. At a time of life when many people network, these men and women worked. They didn't just build careers; they gave service.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Scott Simon is one of America's most admired writers and broadcasters. He is the host of Weekend Edition Saturday and is one of the hosts of NPR's morning news podcast Up First. He has reported from all fifty states, five continents, and ten wars, from El Salvador to Sarajevo to Afghanistan and Iraq. His books have chronicled character and characters, in war and peace, sports and art, tragedy and comedy.