Love of job united men killed in crash

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Jon Tumilson, 35, of Rockford, Iowa, was remembered as a feisty high school wrestler who later competed in marathons and triathlons as part of his preparation for a career as a Navy SEAL. Associated Press did not have his rank.

“He was willing to do whatever it took. He wanted to be there,” neighbor Mark Biggs told the Mason City Globe Gazette. “That was his second family.”

Bravo Company

Three of the crew members aboard the downed Chinook were from the same Army reserve unit — Bravo Company, 7th Battalion, 158th Aviation Regiment — based at New Century AirCenter in Gardner, Kan.

Spc. Spencer Duncan, 21, of Olathe, Kan., had written to friends about how much he loved working as a door gunner on a Chinook helicopter. But the Kansas City Star reported that he also told friends he missed Kansas sunsets and lying in a truck bed listening to the radio and cuddling with his sweetie.

He joined the military in 2008 and had been in Afghanistan since late May.

Chief Warrant Officer 2 Bryan Nichols, 31, a pilot from Kansas City, Mo., was eager to get back to flying after a stint handling paperwork as a unit administrator. So when the word went out that people were needed to train for a mobilization, he volunteered.

Lt. Col. Richard Sherman, former commander of Warrant Officer Nichols’ unit, said one of his favorite memories is flying a pace car with Warrant Officer Nichols to the Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth.

“My happiest and saddest memories are now tied to him,” said Col. Mr. Sherman, who was in command and working as an instructional pilot when Warrant Officer Nichols joined his unit.

“He had no enemies. He was one everyone wanted to be around. You just liked flying with him because you knew he was going to improve as a young pilot and get better every time you flew with him.”

Spc. Alexander Bennett, 23, couldn’t wait to deploy again after returning from spending a year in Iraq in 2009. So the reservist moved on his own from the Tacoma, Wash., area to Overland Park, Kan., to join Bravo Company.

“He wanted to be part of our unit when it deployed,” Col. Sherman said. “He was a typical young kid and liked to go out and have a good time with the guys.”

Patrick Hamburger

Sgt. Patrick Hamburger planned to propose to his girlfriend but had a job to do first: a mission in Afghanistan.

The 30-year-old from Grand Island, Neb., joined the Nebraska National Guard when he was a senior at Lincoln Southeast High School, but this was his first deployment, his brother Chris Hamburger told The Associated Press.

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