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Family of pilot killed in Navy helicopter crash releases statement

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A statement has been released by the family of J. Wesley Van Dorn, one of the crewmembers who died following the Navy helicopter crash off the coast of Virginia Beach.

Van Dorn, 29, of Greensboro, North Carolina, served proudly as a member of Helicopter Mine Countermeasures Squadron 14, based out of Naval Air Station Norfolk.

He is survived by his wife Nicole Fontaine Van Dorn, 27, and sons Jaxton Wesley, 4, and Maddox Coursen, 14 months, as well as parents Mark and Susan Van Dorn, of Greensboro, sister Cara Van Dorn, brother Max Van Dorn, and grandparents Ruth and James Scholtz.

Statement from Van Dorn Family:

“Lt. J. Wesley Van Dorn was a great father, a great son, and an example of strength and love to all who knew him. He was honored to be able serve his country. Wes returned to his family from deployment overseas as an unexpected gift just before Christmas, and he has now left us far too soon.

Those who knew Wes will remember his magnetic heart and the way he naturally drew people to him. His kindness and warmth extended from his family, friends and fellow servicemembers to strangers he encountered even briefly in everyday life. His strength, compassion and easy smile made those around him aspire to do good. His passion for the outdoors, and fishing in particular, was a joy to behold.

Throughout his life Wes was motivated by the example of his grandfather, James H. Scholtz, whom he resembled in appearance, in strong faith and in commitment to serving his country. His deep faith in Christ gave him the strength to serve, the courage to walk without stumbling and be unafraid. In his final moments he calmly thought of and acted for others — his crew, his loved ones.

His family expresses our deepest gratitude to the men and women of the United States Navy, the United States Coast Guard and the Virginia Beach Fire Department who selflessly participated in his rescue after the crash. We hope the families and friends of LT Sean Snyder and Petty Officer Brian Collins find solace in this time of sorrow.”


  • Towball

    My family and I would like to send our condolences and prayers to the families of the crew of the HM-14 chopper that went down on Wednesday. In 1976 I reported to HM-14, which makes me a Plank Owner. I was a crewman also with 2,200 flight hours. My heart breaks for these crew members! It’s like loosing your grandkids. With the death of these three, we are now at a total of 26 lost members, due to mechanical failure or pilot error. Flight crews, please be careful with solid preflights. May God be with you all, as we conduct our minesweeping!

  • Russ Harris

    A website has been setup for all of those who wish to make donation to the families of the HM-14 victims. The fund is tax free and 100% of the donations will go to the families. There has been a large outpouring of support and people asking how they can help. This is one small way people are able to show that support.

  • Kerry Hajner

    From our Navy family to yours, our thoughts and prayers are with your whole family during this very sad and difficult time. May God surround you with love and the peace of knowing that he is with our Lord.

  • Louis

    I know it’s never easy to lose a loved one…especially one who fights for the freedoms Americans appreciate on a daily basis. I’ve been in the Navy for almost 10 years and I’ve had to deal with the losses of a few shipmates during my tenure. My heart goes out to you and your family and just know that LT Van Dorn knew the risks of the training that is involved in the overall mission to support our freedoms. Stay strong and be positive…that’s what he would want. God Bless America!

  • Grant Castleberry

    I’m a Marine veteran…commissioned exact same time as Lt Van Dorn (2007), I got off active duty in 2011 and am now at seminary at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. My dad, a Marine aviator, was also killed in the Atlantic Ocean in a aircraft mishap (F-4) in 1986 when I was two years old. His body was never recovered. I would like to send a letter to Lt. Van Dorn’s sons. Anybody know an address that I can send it to? Please email me at grant.r.castleberry@gmail.com

  • Dj

    So sorry for your loss.my hubby was station at HM-14 when this happened..and he could have been one of those crew members there thats day.so I know time will only heal..but that will take ALOT of time….I wish you all the time in the world to heal …..look to God for his love and open hands to help you heal ……. Amen….

  • momof2

    Prayers for all the members and their families. I was a Navy wife for 15 years and I was always afraid that I would get “that” call.

  • Lt. Ronald Scott Mull & Lisa Mull USNavy

    Being a navy wife for 27.5 years my heart is heavy for the families and friends of these fallen Heroes. God give each of you strength and peace. May you all find solace in this difficult time. God wrap these families in your arms and comfort them in their time of grief and be there for them to guide them and help them through this time of darkness when there seems to be no light. God may they find light in you as you are there for them always. Amen. From our navy family to all of your families prayers and condolences.

  • Helene Baustian

    Prayers to you, your family and friends. I know all to well the pain you feel as my husband was killed off the coast of San Francisco 25 years ago while stationed with HM-15. Know he is with you always and true love never dies. May God bless you and your family with strength, comfort and love! Thank you for your service and sacrifice!

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