Members of the Carroll County Sheriff's Office donned a black shroud over their badges Wednesday as a sign of support and respect for a captain at the detention center and his family.
Capt. Dennis Harmon's son, Sgt. Matthew Harmon, an air crew chief in the U.S. Marine Corps, was on a helicopter off the coast of Australia that went down Aug. 5 after a training exercise between Australia and the United States, according to the Express in the United Kingdom. Three Marines were declared dead after the crash, according to NPR.
Dennis Harmon said his son was bruised and beat up but alive. In order to show support for Harmon's family and to honor the three marines who lost their lives, Sheriff Jim DeWees requested his deputies put a black band around their badge Wednesday, the day of a memorial held for the Marines.
He could see how it was affecting the captain and he wanted to help support the Harmons, DeWees said.
"For me, you could see that Capt. Harmon was feeling helpless," DeWees said.
Dennis Harmon said he has not been able to talk to his son much since the incident, but they did speak briefly. He said it's difficult to put into words the feeling he had when he heard his son was involved in a crash. Not knowing what happened and the inability to communicate was hard to experience, he said.
"I can't even describe it. It's not a feeling I'd wish on anyone," Dennis Harmon said.
Seeing the sheriff's office wear shrouds was "amazing," he said, adding that he was very appreciative that they were thinking about his family and his son's colleagues. It was helpful to have their support, he said.
Matthew Harmon went into the Marines four days after his 18th birthday, Harmon said. He's been enlisted for approximately six years.
It's "more difficult than I can say" to have a son enlisted, Dennis Harmon said, because it's hard not to be able to verify for himself that his son is OK, even when Matthew Harmon says he is. Dennis Harmon said he is supportive of his son and his choice to enlist. He described his son as "very strong-willed," caring, outgoing and dedicated.
Dennis Harmon said it's important to support the military because they ensure people's freedoms. But they should also help to support the families of those enlisted.
"People don't know how hard it is for the family of the military members," Dennis Harmon said.
NPR reported Friday that the Marine Corps have ordered its aviation units to stop flight operations for 24 hours to allow the military branch to focus on safety. The halt in operations, which comes after the Aug. 5 crash and one on July 10 in Mississippi, can be done within a two-week period at the unit commander's discretion, according to the NPR article.