Crowds gather to watch fallen sailor memorial motorcade at Roanoke College

Published: Oct. 26, 2021 at 6:17 PM EDT
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SALEM, Va. (WDBJ) - Many watched a memorial motorcade pass through some of our hometowns Tuesday.

The motorcade carried the remains of James Buriak, a Salem native who died in a U.S. Navy helicopter crash.

“Gave so much of himself to our country as a great American, and we’re just so proud of that and what he did for this country and what he continues to do in our memory, we just will never forget,” said Bill Pilat, Roanoke College Men’s Lacrosse Head Coach.

A moment of silence. Only the sound of cars passing through Roanoke College as the motorcade drove by.

Many in the community stood together to honor Buriak.

“He’s a student who came here and worked hard and did tremendous in school, and more importantly had great friends and great mentors here,” said Pilat.

Buriak graduated from Roanoke College in 2012, according to the college, then went on to the Navy to serve his country.

He died earlier this year when a helicopter crashed off the coast of San Diego.

“Broke my heart and I called his dad right away and the first thing I said is, is it true,” said Paul Henrickson, Retired Roanoke College Chaplin.

Paul Henrickson was Buriak’s neighbor and watched the Salem native grow up.

“It’s a mixture of great, funny stories and also the deep sadness of a death of a son. It’s not the way it should be,” said Henrickson.

Those who knew him say his legacy will live on and they will never forget the man he was.

“Dedicated, fun loving, opportunity to be a great father,” said Henrickson.

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