Fighter Pilot Died Sharing A Love For Flight

David Brodeur was killed last week along with seven other U.S. service members when an Afghan pilot he was helping to train opened fire at a meeting. Brodeur's childhood friends in Massachusetts remember the fun but dutiful boy who fell in love with flying by going to air shows. He leaves behind two children and his wife, who's been planning the funeral amid news that Osama bin Laden, the seminal reason for American troops in Afghanistan, has been killed. Curt Nickisch reports.

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SCOTT SIMON, host:

The family of Air Force Major David Brodeur is holding a memorial service today in his hometown of Auburn, Massachusetts.

Major Brodeur is one of eight U.S. service members who were shot and killed last week by an Afghan pilot they were training.

From member station WBUR in Boston, Curt Nickisch has this remembrance.

CURT NICKISCH: Dave Brodeur may have been an F-16 fighter pilot whod served multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. But his friends Jenn Lynch and Tara McCann remember his other qualities.

Ms. JENN LYNCH: Like his hug - amazing hug.

TARA MCCANN: The hug and the dimples, 'cause he was always smiling, and just had the best dimples.

NICKISCH: A group of his childhood pals gathered this week on a front porch not far from the neighborhood where they grew up - quiet streets, woods in back.

Friend Meghan Rozansky:

Ms. MEGHAN ROZANSKY: To us, hes just another kid that like, hopped in the camper with my dad and the rest of us to go out to the apple orchards and eat penny candy, and then go to Dairy Queen, you know? Just another kid.

NICKISCH: Meghan says they were all amazed he went into the military. They teased him for hiding behind a pillow watching the movie "Jaws." Dave threw up from the violence in "Rambo."

Ms. ROZANSKY: He was, though; he was a soft guy. He was like, really just had a big, big heart.

NICKISCH: An oldest child, with the strictest parents in the group, Dave was always the one who kept everyone out of trouble and stuck up for the little kids. One time, the group switched the shoes on a toddler in the neighborhood.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. ROZANSKY: She was running down the street with her shoes on the wrong feet. It was hilarious; crying, laughing. But then David - David was always the one that would be like, put her shoes back on the right feet.

NICKISCH: He wasnt perfect. Amy Berg remembers going to a high school dance with Dave. They were just friends. Still, she got all dolled up in a shiny dress and corsage.

Ms. AMY BERG: And he was such a gentleman. And we got there, and he decided to get back together with his girlfriend.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. BERG: At the semiformal dance.

NICKISCH: High school is where Dave really focused on flying. Tim Morse says that love came from going to air shows and building model planes together.

Mr. TIM MORSE: You know, we grew up in the era of "Top Gun"- where, you know, you saw that movie, and every kid that was 10 years old, you know, it was, thats what Im going to do. And I said it, too. But he really meant it.

NICKISCH: Dave met his wife while he was at the Air Force Academy. Though he loved flying, he held family higher. And he was hoping this tour, educating the Afghan Air Force, would lead to a desk job back in the U.S. But a trainee shot him.

Friend Jenn Lynch:

Ms. LYNCH: Its really tragic that the way he was killed was in a situation where he was really, really, really only trying to help.

NICKISCH: Air Force Major David Brodeur leaves his wife, a daughter and a son.

For NPR News, Im Curt Nickisch.

SIMON: This is NPR News.

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