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Parents Remember Chris Norgren, A Marine Whose Helicopter Crashed In Nepal

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Sean Sandefur
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The parents of a Marine who died in a helicopter crash in Nepal spoke with reporters in Wichita on Friday. KMUW’s Sean Sandefur has more…

 

For three days, Ron Norgren and his wife Theresa waited for an update about the missing helicopter their son Chris was aboard. U.S. officials have now confirmed that the helicopter crashed in eastern Nepal while conducting a relief mission.

Ron Norgren says he last talked to his son on Mother’s Day.

“I sent him a note, I said, ‘Thank you, Chris, for remembering your mom on Mother’s day. I know you’re really busy in Nepal and I can’t be any prouder of you than I am right now,’” Ron Norgren said.

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Credit facebook.com
Chris Norgren

Hearing the tragic reports coming out of Nepal, Theresa Norgren says she was nervous for her son to be deployed there.

“I was worried about not only his physical health, but also his emotional health because of the devastation,” Theresa said.

“But (Chris) said, ‘Mom, somebody has to do it and I need to be able to help them.’”

Theresa called her son a hero that lived life to the fullest.

There were 5 other Marines onboard the helicopter, along with two Nepalese soldiers.

Listen to the full interview below:

 

wichita_marine_pilot_parents_speak.mp4

Below is a previous version of this story that aired during All Things Considered on Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Nepalese rescuers on Friday found three bodies near the wreckage of a U.S. Marine helicopter that disappeared this week during a relief mission in the earthquake-hit Himalayan nation, and officials said it was unlikely there were any survivors from the crash.

"The wreckage of the helicopter was found in pieces, and there are no chances of any survivors," Nepal's defense secretary, Iswori Poudyal said.

He did not give the nationalities of the three victims, only saying their remains were charred.

The helicopter was carrying two Nepalese army soldiers and six U.S. Marines, including Marine Pilot Chris Norgren of Wichita.

A separate team sent by the U.S. Marines said they identified the wreckage as the missing helicopter, the UH-1 "Huey."

Lt. Gen. John Wissler, commander of the Marine-led joint task force, told reporters in Kathmandu that his team could not immediately identify the cause of the crash or identify the bodies found.

"It was a very severe crash, and based on what we saw in the condition of the aircraft, we believe there were no survivors," he said.

He said extreme weather and difficult terrain hampered his team's efforts to work at the crash site. 

The helicopter disappeared on Tuesday during a humanitarian mission in earthquake-ravaged Nepal.

Ron Norgren says his 31-year-old son Chris Norgren was at the controls of a Marine helicopter on Tuesday, dropping off food at two locations in areas of Nepal damaged by a April 25 earthquake.

He says a second crew spotted Chris’ helicopter making the first stop, but not the second. The Marines told the family that the helicopter never made it back from the mission.

The report came hours after Nepal suffered a second major quake on May 12.

Norgren says his son was in Nepal to help build shelters and that he only found out recently that Chris was flying supply missions.

The family last heard from Chris on Mother’s day.

Norgren says Chris graduated with aerospace engineering and mathematics degrees and has extensive flight training experience, including a mission in Afghanistan.