TX Marine Killed in Chopper Crash

1-27-05 - CANYON LAKE, Texas (AP) A 22-year-old Marine from the Hill Country town of Canyon Lake was among the 31 service members killed in a helicopter crash in western Iraq.

Lance Corporal Tony Hernandez was the crew chief on the aircraft that went down yesterday during a desert sandstorm while transporting troops as part of security operations.

The Marine's father, Leroy Hernandez, says he was working the overnight shift at the Comal County jail when his daughter called to say two Marines were at their house.

When his daughter told him, he says he knew his son had died.

Hernandez spent the afternoon sitting outside his home in a small grove of trees.

His wife, Evelyn, and other family members took turns holding a framed photo of his son in his formal Marine uniform.

Hernandez says he looks at the photograph, and says quote "I just look at the picture and I can't believe it happened. I just wish we could get those kids out of there."

The crash is believed to be the deadliest single incident involving US troops in Iraq.

The helicopter crashed while conducting security operations in the country's western desert.