Pilot in deadly helicopter crash remembered as dear friend, role model
January 27, 2018 09:16 PM
RATON, N.M. – It's been 10 days since a fiery helicopter crash in northern New Mexico killed five people; one of them was celebrated on Saturday.
Friends from all over the country gathered J.C. Dodd, who was piloting the chopper when it went down. The FAA is still investigating the cause of the crash.
"I still, to this day, can't believe that he's not here with us," one loved one said.
Friends of Dodd's described him as a man who found his purpose in the sky – a purpose that was greater than himself.
Dodd graduated from the New Mexico Military Institute in 1978 before joining the Marine Corp Reserves, then the U.S. Army. Then, it was on to flight school.
Greg Peebles met Dodd at NMMI, where he said they developed a tight-knit friendship.
"J.C. was an only child, so everybody was really an adopted brother of his in that way," Peebles said. "But we just had that bond."
He said Dodd spent much of the last 30 years in the cockpit. At one point, Dodd served as a rescue pilot for the California Highway Patrol. He also helped save locals from rooftops after Hurricane Katrina slammed New Orleans.
And he didn't stop there.
"In his day off, he went out and personally rented a helicopter, took his flight crew with him, and they went and rescued dogs all day on their day off at his own personal expense," Peebles said. "That's the kind of guy he was."
It was a caliber of character that Dodd's friends said was unmatched as they remember a role model and mentor.
"He did truly die doing what he loved to do," Peebles said.
Updated: January 27, 2018 09:16 PM
Created: January 27, 2018 09:00 PM
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