In late January, America lost two of her finest during a helicopter training mission at 29 Palms in California. U.S. Marine Corps Major Elizabeth Kealey and Captain Adam Satterfield served their country with honor and were remembered at a recent ceremony attended by hundreds of fellow Marines, veterans, family and friends.
Major Kealey, Betsy, was a friend of this journalist.
Betsy was a remarkable woman devoted to her faith, family and friends. Just a few weeks ago, members of a Bible study group Betsy was a part of got together to celebrate her life with hugs, tears and joy-filled memories. An extraordinary willingness to put her needs aside to offer her time, love and care to others marked her life, as did her great humility.
A statement from the family read, “…Kealey graduated from USNA with honors in 2005 and received her pilot’s wings in Sept 2007…[she] trained on CH-46 and Huey helicopters and served 2 deployments in the Persian Gulf and 1 combat deployment in Afghanistan.”
Fellow Marine Jonathan Patras was a friend of the 32-years-young “Peaches.” He and his wife Katy welcomed their first child into the world not two hours before Betsy passed.
In reflection, Patras described the two events as one of the happiest and one of the saddest in his life. He wrote, “There was purpose to Betsy’s character…a reason that, contrary to human nature, she cared more about the people around her than her own interests. Betsy’s faith impacted every facet of her life, and was proudly the driving force behind her conduct and selfless service to others…Betsy’s life was never about Betsy. It was about helping others find peace even in our turbulent way of life. It was about being a reflection of God’s love for us. It was about having Honor, showing Courage, and demonstrating Commitment not because the Marine Corps told her to, but because those attributes were truly part of her God-given character.”
For eight months Betsy lived with longtime friend Milly Haynes and the Haynes family. Milly said of Betsy, “She was one of the most compassionate and introspective people I have ever known. She could lead well and still be amazingly teachable. Betsy was in tune with Christ and He was profoundly glorified through her life. She grasped the importance of loving people over things…”.
“Major Kealey’s personal awards include the Air Medal with Third Strike award, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, and two Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals,” the memorial service program detailed.
During the military service, friends shared their hearts toward and memories of Major Kealey and Captain Satterfield. Psalms 23 and Ephesians 3:14-21 were read, Amazing Grace played on bagpipes, taps rung out from a bugle and a roll call brought sobering reality to the fact that Major Kealey and Captain Satterfield were not there to reply.
Five helicopters, appearing far in the distance flew straight toward the hanger that day, flying over with thunderous and stark impact.
Captain Adam Satterfield was only 25 years old the day of the crash, but displayed great commitment to excellence in his performance during his time in the Marines. “Adam enjoyed spending time with his wife, Kayla and their dog Izzy. He was very active and loved outdoor activities, and had a passion for life. He was a great friend and well respected by all,” read the Stoess Funeral Home’s posted obituary for Satterfield.
Satterfield graduated from the United States Merchant Marine Academy in 2011, the Camp Pendleton memorial service program stated. It added: “After completing Aviation Preflight Indoctrination, where he earned the Outstanding Student Award, 1stLt Satterfield moved on to fly the T-6B Texas in Primary Flight Training at NAS Whiting Field. He completed the syllabus, making the Commodore’s List for his performance and selected helicopters. 1stLt Satterfield reported to Helicopter Training Squadron 18 to fly the TH-57B/C in Advanced Flight Training. He completed Advanced, again making the Commodore’s List with Distinction, and was designated a Naval Aviator.”
Captain Satterfield received personal awards, including “the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal.”
Major Kealey will be interred at Arlington National Cemetery. Captain Satterfield is laid to rest at Floydsburg Cemetery.
Satterfield leaves behind a wife Kayla, dog Izzy, mother Renee, father Robert and his wife, sister Amy and grandparents Virginia and Carl. Kealey is survived by her mother Chris, brother Walter, sister Laura, stepfather Charles, stepbrother Gregg and family and stepsister Janine and family. Her father, Lt. Col. Walter G Kealey, Jr. preceded her in death, according to a statement from the family.
In lieu of flowers, Captain Satterfield’s family requested that donations be made to the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund, and Major Kealey’s family requested donations be made to the Wounded Warrior Project.
Follow Michelle Moons on Twitter @MichelleDiana