A high toll


Many Americans have loved their country so much that they were prepared to die defending it. If every Memorial Day reminds us of the high toll of such service in war, this one comes with a fresh and stinging reminder that sacrifices also occur far from the battlefield.

Marine Capt. Chris Norgren was piloting the UH-1 “Huey” helicopter that crashed May 12 on a humanitarian mission to earthquake-stricken Nepal. Norgren and five other Marines died, along with two Nepali soldiers. Among the 300 U.S. military personnel called upon to help on a mission whose name means “helping hand” in Nepali, the Bishop Carroll graduate and former Cessna Aircraft employee also had done an eight-month tour in Afghanistan.

Though the news received by his Wichita family was the worst imaginable, the 31-year-old pilot was exemplifying the U.S. military at its most benevolent – using his skill and training to deliver aid and hope to strangers amid devastation in a distant land.

“He lived life the way he wanted to, and that meant helping people,” his father, Ron Norgren, told the Washington Post.

The Norgrens and their loss will continue to be in Wichitans’ thoughts and prayers in the coming days.

Even as this Memorial Day finds other U.S. missions ongoing around the globe, it particularly brings to mind the endings of World War II 70 years ago and the Vietnam War 40 years ago. Memorial Day observances in the Wichita area, including at 8 a.m. at Veterans Memorial Park, 339 N. Veterans Parkway, will honor all who fought and died in those and other conflicts.

Wherever and however we choose to do so, we should pause in gratitude and respect for the fallen. Whether their loss of life came in combat or on a mission of compassion, the nation is stronger for their service.

For the editorial board, Rhonda Holman