A Liverpool family is grieving the loss of a soldier killed in Afghanistan this past weekend, in a helicopter crash.
At Ed and Judy Van Marter's village of Liverpool home, there are lots of tears as friends, and military representatives, stop in to offer condolences. Their daughter Ginny married Brad Gaudet last fall, just before he deployed back to Afghanistan for his third tour of duty. Their baby, Addyson Elizabeth, was born at Crouse Hospital last month. 'He made it just before the birth,' Ginny told us this afternoon. She says he was still wearing his uniform when he got to the delivery room. The baby was supposed to be named Addyson Victoria, but he wanted to change it to Addyson Elizabeth--Ginny's middle name--because he wanted his wife to be a part of her. Now she says tearfully 'she looks a lot like him.' News-journal.com of Austin, Texas is reporting that Gaudet died Saturday, two days before the baby's one month birthday.
Matt's Memo blog about two Addysons being born to hero fathers.
Warrant Officer Brad Gaudet is from Gladewater,Texas, and his wife told us he always wanted to be a pilot. He learned to fly helicopters with a Texas friend, before getting into the Army. He was assigned to the 10th Mountain Division, based at Fort Drum. He piloted Kiowas, 2-man choppers. One thing they do when not 'on duty' is to fly American flags over the Afghan countryside--Gaudet sent one such flag, with a certificate, to his in-laws, who now keep it in a special place in their home.
The family says it's getting a lot of support from Fort Drum, including a visit from Brad's former colonel. The Village of Liverpool is also pitching in, with the mayor arranging for a restaurant, the Limp Lizard, to take food to the Van Marter home. Mike Rotella, from the recently opened restaurant, says they never thought twice about the request. Partner Scott Schimpff took the food over right away, to help in what they call the 'heart wrenching' situation. "It's something we felt like we needed to do," said Schimpff.
The family -- Ed and Judy Van Marter, daughter Ginny and the baby, are on their way to welcome Brad's casket home.The military is paying for their trip to Dover Air Force Base, where they'll meet with his mother and step-father at the Center for Families of the Fallen. The Van Marters say they're also considering a remembrance service in Liverpool.
The heart-breaking loss is being felt throughout the community. Now, even strangers are showing support for the family. "Our support is definitely with them. I just can't imagine," said Holly Legnard from Liverpool.
"Words can't express the loss. I'm sad it had to happen. He died a hero," said Richard Melfi from Liverpool.
Several groups with ties to the family are already starting a fund drive for the baby, including Judy Van Marter's co-workers at Elmcrest Elementary, and the base at Fort Drum. Ed Van Marter says that when they get back from Dover, he'll look at combining the efforts so there's one central place for contributions.