Portraits of Navy SEALs killed in helicopter crash

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Michael Strange

If someone was sad, Michael Strange tried to make them smile. He loved snowboarding, surfing, scuba diving, running, and shooting guns on the range.

“He loved his friends, his family, his country; he loved making people laugh. He was one of a kind,” Strange’s brother, Charles Strange III, said outside the family’s Philadelphia home, where American flags were planted throughout the neighborhood.

Strange, 25, decided to join the military when he was still in high school, and had been in the Navy for about six years, first stationed in Hawaii and for the last two in Virginia Beach, where he became a SEAL about two years ago, his mother, Elizabeth Strange, told The Associated Press.

But he always told his family not to worry.

“He wasn’t supposed to die this young. He was supposed to be safe,” Elizabeth Strange said. “And he told me that, and I believed him. I shouldn’t have believed him because I know better. He would say, ‘Mom, don’t be ridiculous and worry so much. I’m safe.’”

Charles Strange said his brother loved the SEALS, especially “the competitiveness, getting in shape and running and swimming and all of that.”

He also had two sisters and recently became an uncle. The family last saw him in June, when he came for a weeklong visit for his birthday, his mother said. He was supposed to be back for Thanksgiving.

“It was going to be such a good time,” his mother said.

His grandmother Bernice Strange remembered him as a young man who loved cheesesteaks and the Philadelphia Eagles and always brought her flowers.

“He was a wonderful grandson to have,” she said Monday night. “God truly blessed me with him.”

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John W. Brown

If Elizabeth Newlun wanted to have a serious conversation with her son, John Brown, she had to shoot baskets with him.

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Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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