CAMP LEMONIER, Djibouti -- The “Ironhorses” of Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron-461 held a one-year memorial celebration Tuesday at the General’s House here for a fallen Marine Capt. Seth Michaud.
A brief speech was given by Lt. Col. Robert D. Pridgen, the “Ironhorse’s” detachment officer-in-charge, recalling the events of June 22, 2003. He also recognized the Marines and sailors who put their own lives in danger to help save the lives of their fellow Marines.
Michaud, an “Ironhorse” pilot, was killed in a training accident at Godora range, approximately 60 miles north of Camp Lemonier.
Late in the morning June 22, 2003, Capt. Seth Michaud was tragically killed when an Air Force B-52 inadvertently dropped ordnance south of the target onto the Godoria Range observation post where Michaud and other HMH-461 Marines stood watch – ready for a medevac mission if the call came. That call came, but in a capacity none would have guessed, according to Pridgen.
“Despite personal injuries and .50 caliber rounds cooking off, the Marines present acted heroically by running into aircraft and pulling the injured out,” said Pridgen.
The squadron’s flight surgeon, Navy Lt. Eric Netland, despite having his leg severed from just below the knee, he continued to give life saving procedures for the Marines to apply to the injured while drifting in and out of consciousness, explained Pridgen.
“When I talked to the doctor who arrived with the medevac helicopters, he said it was the most organized mass casualty triage site he had seen,” said Pridgen.
Brig. Gen. Samuel Helland, camp commanding general, explained that with all the conflicts in the world, accidents will happen.
“Accidents should not happen but they do and we need to learn to deal with human error,” said Helland. “We need to all work together to prevent accidents from happening and understand why they happen so we can fix the problem. If you can understand that you are a true hero.”
“As the proud father of his son, and dedicated husband to his bride, he sacrificed much to ensure we deployed with the gear we needed at the expense of family time in the days leading up to the deployment one year ago. He set the bar for endurance setting up spaces, getting us wired, procuring the things we were not smart enough to ask for,” said Pridgen. “Captain Michaud was remained faithful to his God, the Corps and his family to the end as his last concerns and words were of his Marines and his wife and son. He was surrounded that day by those who remained faithful through and through as demonstrated by the selfless acts of heroism to save fellow Marines and sailors severely injured by the explosions.
“These are the kind of people in our midst. These are the people who do this job with little fanfare, with no other satisfaction than to know the job is done well and Marines are taking care of their own,” Pridgen continued.
“May we never forget him, his sacrifice, nor the critical role he, or we for that matter, play in making the world a safer place to live,” he added.