William P. Lawrence Remembers Fallen Pilots
By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Carla Ocampo, USS William P. Lawrence Public Affairs
U.S. 5TH FLEET AREA OF RESPONSIBILITY - Sailors aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS William P. Lawrence (DDG 110) gathered for a remembrance ceremony Sept. 29 to honor the lives of two fallen pilots killed in a helicopter accident.

On Sept. 22, an MH-60S Seahawk helicopter, attached to Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 6, crashed in the central Red Sea while operating with William P. Lawrence. The two pilots killed were Lt. Cmdr. Landon L. Jones, 35, of Lompoc, Calif., and Chief Warrant Officer 3 Jonathan S. Gibson, 32, of Aurora, Ore.

During the ceremony Cmdr. Jana A. Vavasseur, commanding officer of William P. Lawrence, expressed how their loss had affected everyone. Vavasseur said that even though many Sailors aboard may not have known Jones or Gibson personally, their loss still hurt because they were shipmates.

After Vavasseur addressed the crew, members from Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 75 read the biographies of Jones and Gibson.

Lt. Benjamin Box, a Navy chaplain assigned to Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 23, read a letter written by Theresa Jones, widow of Jones. In the letter, Theresa explained what was on her mind and what she did the day three men in service dress blues knocked on her door.

In her letter Mrs. Jones wrote: "My boys, one of you lost your best friend and one of you never even had the chance to meet him. But, please know that your father loves you."

Following the letter, Box said a few words and led the crew in a prayer for the lives of Jones and Gibson.

"Perhaps the best way we can honor the dead, is to go on living, to enjoy our loved ones, to value the small blessings that are often taken for granted and to appreciate our opportunity to serve a great and noble cause," said Box. "On this solemn occasion may we find the inspiration to complete our mission with pride, dignity and dedication."

The ceremony concluded by the playing of "Taps."

William P. Lawrence departed her homeport of San Diego Jan. 14 for her maiden deployment and is currently in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility conducting maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts.

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