CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. (AP/WOOD) — Military officials confirm a Holland native was one of the seven special forces Marines who were killed when a Black Hawk helicopter crashed into the waters off Florida during a routine training mission in dense fog.
U.S. Marine Staff Sgt. Andrew Seif was awarded the Silver Star just last week. Seif, 27, was also named the 2013 Marine of the Year for trying to save the life of a fellow Marine, Sgt. Justin Hansen from Traverse City — the same act of valor that earned him the Silver Star.
A family member of Seif’s who didn’t want to be identified told 24 Hour News 8 over the phone Friday that Seif was a humble individual who loved being a part of the Marine Corps.
Those killed were all stationed at from Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. They were identified Friday as: Capt. Stanford Henry Shaw III of Basking Ridge, New Jersey; Master Sgt. Thomas Saunders of Camp Lejeune; Staff Sgt. Liam Flynn of Queens, New York; Staff Sgt. Trevor P. Blaylock of Lake Orion, Michigan; Staff Sgt. Kerry Michael Kemp of Port Washington, Wisconsin; Staff Sgt. Andrew Seif of Holland, Michigan; and Staff Sgt. Marcus Bawol from Warren, Michigan.
All were from the 2nd Special Operations Battalion of the Marine Corps Special Operations Command.
Four Louisiana National Guard soldiers also died in the crash. Their names have yet been released.
Seif was a 2006 graduate of West Ottawa High School. West Ottawa Public Schools Assistant Superintendent for Employee Relations and Marketing Greg Warsen released this statement Friday:
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family during this difficult time. We are grateful for Andrew Seif’s distinguished, decorated service to his country, and we’re honored to have him as a graduate of West Ottawa High School.
“As a student, Seif is described as very hard working. He was quiet yet very kind, and seemed to get along with everyone in class.
“Given this confirmation (of Andrew Seif’s death), our deep sympathies are with the Seif family at this time of loss.”
U.S. Rep. Bill Huizenga, R-Zeeland, provided this statement Friday:
“Having met Staff Sergeant Andrew Seif in person, I could tell he was a special kind of Marine. He was a man of great character who deeply loved both his family and his country. In 2013, Sergeant Seif was recognized for both his service and heroism in Afghanistan by being named Marine of the Year by the USO. Today, West Michigan and the entire nation mourn the loss of a true American hero. My thoughts and prayers go out to Sergeant Seif’s family, as well as the friends and loved ones of the 10 other Marines and soldiers who tragically lost their lives along the Florida coast.”
U.Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Lansing, released this statement:
“The entire State of Michigan mourns the tragic loss this week of Staff Sgts. Trevor Blaylock, Andrew Seif, and Marcus Bawol. These brave men answered the call of duty to serve and protect our country and their sacrifice will not be forgotten. Today, I join Michigan families everywhere to send thoughts and prayers to each of their families during this difficult time.”