Crowds gather to watch the commemorative procession of fallen sailors at Roanoke College


SALEM, Va. (WDBJ) – Many watched a memorial procession pass through some of our hometowns on Tuesday.

It was James Buriak, a native of Salem who died in a US Navy helicopter crash.

“He gave so much of himself to our country as a great American and we are so proud of that and what he has done for this country and what he continues to do in our memory, we 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 procession passed.

Many members of the community gathered to honor James Buriak.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Dedicated, fun-loving, opportunity to be a good dad,” said Henrickson.

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