Thomasville mourns for serviceman killed in Afghanistan -, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Thomasville mourns for serviceman killed in Afghanistan


By LeiLani Golden - bio | email

THOMASVILLE, GA (WALB) –A Thomasville man was killed Tuesday while serving in Afghanistan.

30-year old Blake McLendon was aboard a military helicopter that crashed, killing him and eight others.

It's far from the first time Thomas County has dealt with the death of a service member.

When a military helicopter carrying 30-year old Thomasville native, Blake McLendon, went down in Afghanistan Tuesday, word spread fast.

"It's a tragedy," said Brad Smallwood, a former classmate of McLendon's. "I hope the family is doing okay."

"Even though he wasn't kin he was one of my 'boys'," remembers "Coach" John Booth, a former TCCHS teacher. "I felt that sense of loss. And I ask myself 'Why?' Especially now with troops being pulled out, it was almost like it was a cheap shot."

The U.S. military has not disclosed the helicopter's mission and the cause of the crash is still unclear. But McLendon's friends say they're only focused on remembering the life of the 1998 Thomas County Central High School graduate who went on to become a senior chief in the Naval Special Warfare.

"He was very polite and always behaved, especially in my class because I knew his daddy," Booth jokes.

Smallwood adds, "Knowing him, going to Central, he was probably a really strong guy, prepared for anything to come."

But McLendon isn't the only serviceman Thomas County has lost in recent years. In fact, a special Facebook page honors others who lost their lives while serving in the military.

"It's a common thing," says Smallwood. "And people in Thomas County stick together. It's a military town without a base."

Booth agreed, "Thomasville is a little special. We don't know why, but there is a togetherness."

And they say the community will remember McLendon as an American hero.

"It's sad but on the other hand, he went down a hero, doing what he wanted to do. For his country," Smallwood points out.

"I think his folks would say he was doing what he wanted to do," says a teary-eyed Booth. "I'm proud of Blake. We're going to miss him. And we're going to miss the thousands of others just like him."

The ones who gave all for the country they loved.

McLendon's parents traveled to Dover, Delaware Wednesday to bring home their son's body for burial later this week in Thomasville.

You can find visit the Facebook page honoring Thomas County's fallen troops here.

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