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HUDSON — Friends and family of Captain Seth Michaud, a Marine helicopter pilot killed last month while on serving in Africa, gathered at St. Michael Church in Hudson for a memorial Mass July 11.
"We gather together tonight to pray for our fallen brother, in a time and a moment which none of us could ever have imagined," Father Kenneth LeBlanc, family friend and pastor of Mary Immaculate of Lourdes Parish in Newton, told the over 250 people in attendance.
"May Seth be cradled in the arms of God, who gave him to us so as to enrich our lives," prayed Father LeBlanc.
The 27 year-old Hudson native and graduate of Hudson Catholic High School was killed on June 22 while serving in Djibouti in Eastern Africa, where he had been deployed as part of a counter terrorism operation since November. During a practice mission with his Combined Joint Task Force — Horn of Africa, nine bombs dropped from a B-52 inadvertently landed near troops and their two helicopters observing alongside the bombing range. Eight others were injured in the incident and both helicopters were destroyed. Only Capt. Michaud was killed.
He was buried July 1 with full military honors in a private ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery, attended only by his immediate family — his wife, Karen Marie; their 18 month-old son Ian; his parents, Francis and Karen; and his siblings, Ethan and Samantha.
Personal items belonging to Capt. Michaud, including a flight suit, boots, a folded flag and a photo of the young marine, were displayed at the front of the church in tribute.
During his homily, Father LeBlanc praised Capt. Michaud, underscoring his strong belief in God. “[Faith] was as much a part of Seth’s life as was his skin,” he said.
Father LeBlanc recalled that, even from his youth, the future pilot had possessed an admirable character. “The love of God, the love of family and the love of country were the foundations of his life,” he said.
Father LeBlanc acknowledged the need to mourn. “There is no timetable, no schedule for grief,” he said. “It can leave us numb, shocked. It hurts — and it’s bound to.”
“Our life is inextricably interwoven in the fabric of God’s plan,” he said. “Our faith is rooted in reality, in promise and in hope. We — as a people of faith — are confronted by the inevitable reality of death,” he continued.
“Jesus says, ‘Don’t worry. It’s ok to be sad. It’s ok to cry. But don’t give in to hopelessness,’” warned Father LeBlanc. He encouraged the congregation to pray for the family as they cope with the loss of their husband, father and son.
At the conclusion of the Mass, Capt. Michaud’s father, Francis, reflected on his son’s life.
"I remember that as a young man you were full of integrity, a person who made a difference in our world," he said.
Filled with personal memories of Capt. Michaud “as a son …as a brother …as a Marine,” and “as a young husband and father,” Francis Michaud memorialized his son.
"You are my hero and I know you are with us today," he said. "Thank you Father for the gift of Seth."