Guardian Flight nurse Leslie Carey speaks of Stacie Morse during memorial service for the Guardian Flight crew held at Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé on Friday, June 7, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Guardian Flight nurse Leslie Carey speaks of Stacie Morse during memorial service for the Guardian Flight crew held at Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé on Friday, June 7, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

‘We’ll carry you with us’: Ceremony remembers kindness of plane crash victims

Tribute brings together families, first responders for memorial

Kendall Jackson, a paramedic in Kake, interacts often with Guardian Flight personnel as they make medical flights to the small Southeast Alaska village.

One interaction in particular stands out to her. During one medical call, Jackson told Guardian Flight nurse Stacie Rae Morse that Jackson considered herself “just an ambulance driver.”

“Honey,” Morse told her, “you’re not just anything.”

Morse — along with pilot Patrick Coyle, flight paramedic Margaret Langston and Morse’s unborn child she planned to name Delta Rae — was honored in a memorial ceremony Friday at the Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé auditorium. Their plane crashed while on a medevac trip to Kake on the night of Jan. 29, and the crash claimed their lives.

[Photos: Guardian Flight memorial service]

Stories like Jackson’s were the norm, as friends and colleagues remembered the trio as caring, impactful people.

Co-workers, Guardian officials and representatives from the Village of Kake all shared memories of the three. Upwards of 300 people showed up to the memorial, including family members and dozens of first responders and people in uniform. At one point in the 90-minute ceremony, members of each family were presented with an American flag.

Langston’s adult son Anthony Scott said afterward the segment with representatives from Kake was a highlight.

“I really felt the love and support from the Juneau community and all communities involved,” Scott said. “I really appreciate that.”

Representatives from the Village of Kake offer their respect during a memorial for the Guardian Flight crew at Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé on Friday, June 7, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Representatives from the Village of Kake offer their respect during a memorial for the Guardian Flight crew at Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé on Friday, June 7, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Those who spoke about her remembered Langston as a warm, kind person who was always willing to give. As Guardian team member Ben Wagner said during the ceremony, Langston was always trying to help people, even in her final hours.

Colleagues remembered Coyle as funny and enthusiastic. Guardian Captain Eric Magnusson read out a bio that Coyle had written for himself for an online profile where Coyle began, “I was born at a very young age,” earning more than a few laughs from the audience.

[Friends, family, colleagues bid farewell to victim of downtown stabbing]

Valerie Cassidy, a flight nurse for Guardian, spoke about Morse, saying her smile was infectious and her work ethic was never-ending. She said Morse would have made a great mother.

“The world is a much better place for having had all three of Pat, Margaret and Stacie in it,” Cassidy said, “and there will be a hole left unfilled.”

The ceremony included a flyover with Temsco helicopters outside the school and a lengthy speech from Alaska Native Brotherhood certified elder Father Michael Oleksa.

Three helicopters make a flyover at the end of a memorial service for the Guardian Flight crew is held at Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé on Friday, June 7, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Three helicopters make a flyover at the end of a memorial service for the Guardian Flight crew is held at Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé on Friday, June 7, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Oleksa made the point that to be a real, genuine human being, a person must be willing to be selfless. They must learn to sacrifice something for others and who care more for others than themselves, he said.

“We’re honoring three real human beings today,” Oleksa said, adding that the ceremony was also honoring first responders in all fields.

Father Michael Oleksa, an Elder of the Alaska Federation of Natives, offers an inspirational story during a memorial for the Guardian Flight crew at Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé on Friday, June 7, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Father Michael Oleksa, an Elder of the Alaska Federation of Natives, offers an inspirational story during a memorial for the Guardian Flight crew at Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé on Friday, June 7, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Derek Lastberger, whose brother Dylan was engaged to Morse, said afterward that Oleksa’s speech was one of the highlights, but he thought the whole memorial service was very well done and respectful. Guardian coordinated with multiple groups to organize the ceremony.

The portion of the ceremony that elicited one of the biggest emotional responses was a flight communication that was made specifically for the ceremony. The dispatch, which was made to sound like a call from a headquarters to a flight crew, was a message to the victims.

The dispatch told the crew, “you have all completed your service here. Now it’s time to rest.” Following a moment of silence, the dispatch finished with a farewell:

“Pat, Margaret, Stacie and Delta Rae, may you rest in peace knowing your strength lives on. Thank you for your commitment, service and ultimate sacrifice. You are cleared to ascend. Only blue skies and tail winds ahead for you. Godspeed and high flight. We’ll carry you with us from here. Dispatch clear.”

Memorial hearts are pictured on stage during the Guardian memorial at Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé on Friday, June 7, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Memorial hearts are pictured on stage during the Guardian memorial at Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé on Friday, June 7, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)


• Contact reporter Alex McCarthy at amccarthy@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @akmccarthy.


More in News

Float of ducks off Pt. Louisa with Eagle Peak, on Admiralty National Monument around dusk in Juneau winter.
Wild Shots: Photos of Mother Nature in Alaska

Reader-submitted photos of Southeast Alaska.

FILE - Participants wave signs as they walk back to Orlando City Hall during the March for Abortion Access on Saturday, Oct. 2, 2021, in Orlando, Fla.  State-by-state battles over the future of abortion in the U.S. are setting up across the country as lawmakers in Republican-led states propose new restrictions modeled on laws passed in Texas and Mississippi even as some Democratic-controlled states work to preserve access.  (Chasity Maynard/Orlando Sentinel via AP, File)
With Roe in doubt, states act on abortion limits, expansions

“This could be a really, really dramatic year…”

This undated electron microscope image made available by the U.S. National Institutes of Health in February 2020 shows the Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, yellow, emerging from the surface of cells, blue/pink, cultured in the lab. Also known as 2019-nCoV, the virus causes COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, NIAID-RML
COVID at a Glance for Friday, Jan. 21

Numbers come from reports from the City and Borough of Juneau Emergency… Continue reading

Ted Nordgaarden of the Alaska Bureau of Investigation imitates the gesture made by the defendant during the trial of a man charged with killing another man in Yakutat in 2018. (Screenshot)
Investigator testifies as trial concludes second week

The jury watched video of the defendant’s initial interview in custody.

Peter Segall/Juneau Empire
One of the last cruise ships of the 2021 season docks in Juneau on Oct. 20, 2021. Local operators say it’s too early to know how the upcoming cruise season will unfold, but they’re cautiously optimistic.
Smooth sailing for the 2022 season?

Cautious optimism reigns, but operators say it’s too early to tell.

It's a police car until you look closely and see the details don't quite match. (Juneau Empire File / Michael Penn)
Police calls for Sunday, Jan. 23, 2022

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

This undated electron microscope image made available by the U.S. National Institutes of Health in February 2020 shows the Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, yellow, emerging from the surface of cells, blue/pink, cultured in the lab. Also known as 2019-nCoV, the virus causes COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, NIAID-RML
COVID at a Glance for Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2022

Numbers come from reports from the City and Borough of Juneau Emergency… Continue reading

Most Read