GRAPEVINE — The memorial service for two CareFlite employees killed in a helicopter crash last week — pilot Guy Del Giudice and mechanic Stephen Durler — took place at Fellowship Church of Grapevine on Thursday.
Emergency responders from across North Texas attended the service, with an impressive display of equipment and dignity.
Air ambulances landed with precision in the church parking lot.
There was a long and solemn procession of 70 medical units and fire trucks. They were accompanied only by the sound of bagpipers and drummers from multiple fire departments.
Inside the church, hung large photos of Giudice and Durler.
Most of CareFlite's 300 employees came to say goodbye.
"The truest testimony will not be in the words we speak, but in the way Stephen and Guy led their lives and lost their lives — with dedication, honor, and the desire to help people in their time of need," said CareFlite supervisor Jan Cody.
This was not the time to speak of the crash that killed them, but rather of the passions that drove them.
Stephen Durler was an Eagle Scout who just turned 23, but had already earned his license to repair and fly helicopters. "It was impossible not to be affected by his smile and his happiness," said CareFlite president Jim Swartz.
Guy Del Giudice was remembered for his devotion to his wife and two stepsons, and his love of all things active and outdoors. "With Guy, there was no line between friends and family," said fellow pilot Bill Davis with a shaky voice. "Once you were in, you were in all the way."
The memorial service was punctuated by fire bells, bagpipes and a bugler sounding Taps. The victims' families received folded American flags, and mourners received a message that the best tribute is to face the risks, carry on and save lives.
"All of this support, regardless of its form, has helped the families of our fallen brothers, and the CareFlite family, bear an unbearable loss," said Jim Swartz, CareFlite CEO.
CareFlite said the deaths last week during a maintenance flight near Midlothian were organization's first fatalities in the last quarter century.
This brotherhood of emergency responders knows this is not a risk-free occupation. Many would consider it a calling.
The National Transportation Safety Board has not released a report on the cause of the accident.