Candlelight vigil held for fallen La. National Guard soldiers

(Source: WAFB)
(Source: WAFB)
(Source: WAFB)
(Source: WAFB)

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - As news spread that a search and rescue turned into a recovery mission, all hope of finding the four Louisiana soldiers and seven Marines was lost, grief spreads across the country. In Baton Rouge, a vigil was held at the USS Kidd to honor those lost.

"Best thing you can do at a time like this, you've got to grieve. There is a certain period where you have to accept it and miss them," said Mark Henry Sr.

The grieving was evident among mourners, friends and strangers beckoned to honor 11 men claimed by the shore they promised to protect. With glowing candles, they gathered at the USS Kidd for an impromptu memorial service born of sadness.

Some of those at the vigil were brothers in arms, survivors of conflicts on foreign soil. Henry served with the 1-244th Assault Helicopter Battalion and flew with them on a tour of duty in Iraq. He was friends with three of the fallen guardsmen.

"He was always ready with a smile he was always upbeat. You never really saw him down," said Henry of one of those soldiers. "He just showed his love. Every time he walked into the room he brightened up."

Others there were parents, with children shouldering the same heavy duty of military service, left wondering what if?

"I'm not doing good, because I'm thinking what if this had been my daughter?" said Zoila Casas. "I understand the families, because it's so hard.

Casas' daughter is currently a part of the 1-244th.

Everyone at the vigil was thankful for the sacrifice made by those honored, both the names surrounding the eternal flame and those yet to be added.

"Then you put them to rest, keep the memories and move on," said Henry.

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