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Old 24-03-2011, 09:48   #1
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Fundraiser set for memorial to Sacramento Coast Guard air crew

If you can make it.........

This story is taken from Sacbee / Our Region / Helping Others

Fundraiser set for memorial to Sacramento Coast Guard air crew

Published Thursday, Mar. 24, 2011

The alarm began wailing late on a Thursday afternoon at the Coast Guard air station at McClellan Park. A kayaker was in trouble in the Pacific Ocean off San Diego.
Joshua Gross, a flight engineer and mechanic, had been training with seven others aboard a rescue plane for most of the day. But this was the real thing. Gross got ready to grab his bag and climb back into the C-130 Hercules.
His boss stopped him.
"You've had enough for today," said Chief Petty Officer John Seidman. "Go home. Have a good weekend."
Gross said goodbye to the crew and left to join his wife, Diane, at a family celebration. Hours later, he learned that the mission ended in tragedy.
On television that night, he listened to ghastly reports of a crash between the rescue plane and a Marine Corps helicopter. Seidman and the other six members of his C-130 crew had perished, as had both Marines aboard the helicopter.
Now, nearly 18 months after the crash on Oct. 29, 2009, Gross still sees the faces of his dead comrades when he embarks on rescue missions. Soon, he and others plan to honor them with a bronze memorial that will stand inside front gates of Coast Guard Air Station Sacramento.
On Saturday, Coast Guard members and their families will host a dinner in an effort to raise money to complete the $100,000 project, which will feature a replica of a C-130 created by Auburn artist Doug Van Howd and plaques honoring each of the Coast Guard members and Marines who died.
The honorees are C-130 crew members Seidman, Che J. Barnes, Adam W. Bryant, Carl P. Grigonis, Monica L. Beacham, Jason S. Moletzky, Danny R. Kreder II, and from the Marine Corps helicopter, Samuel Leigh and Thomas Claiborne.
"It's been a year and a half, and these Guardians were our heroes," Diane Gross said. "It's time to get this done. It's time to build it."
Joshua Gross, 28, joined the Coast Guard "because I wanted to be the first person on the scene to help people in trouble," he said in the Citrus Heights home he shares with his wife and three children, Katarina, Lucas and Asher.
On the day of the disaster, he had been engaged in "hot seat" training, with the C-130 crew responding to simulated emergencies aboard their aircraft. After five hours of flying, the crew returned to their airfield to fix a minor problem with the plane's escape hatch.
The search-and-rescue alarm sounded about 3:30 p.m., and Gross left the base shortly after the crew took off. He knew nothing of the accident until hours later, when his cell phone began pinging with messages. "Are you OK?" friends and family members wanted to know.
Gross hardly slept for several nights afterward. Every time he closed his eyes, he said, "I was imagining being in that plane and going down with it, feeling the panic, knowing that there was nothing we could do, seeing the water come closer and closer."
It was a month before he flew again.
Gross may never get over the mild terror he feels when he heads out on rescue missions, he said. He has asked himself why his life was spared, and believes he found the answer two weeks after the crash.
"That's when we found out that Diane was pregnant with our little guy," the couple's youngest son, the curly-haired dynamo named Asher.
"Had I been on that plane, I never would have met him," Gross said. "I was not on that flight for a reason. I guess I'm supposed to be here."
Today is the last day to purchase tickets for a weekend fundraiser for a memorial to honor the nine people who died in a crash between a Coast Guard rescue plane and a Marine helicopter.
What: Event features a dinner, silent auction, live music and wine tasting.
When: 6 p.m. Saturday
Where: Aerospace Museum of California, 3200 Freedom Park Drive, McClellan Park, Sacramento
Tickets: Price: $30. Tickets must be purchased today at
Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.
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Call The Bee's Cynthia Hubert, (916) 321-1082.
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