The B.C. pilot of a Canadian military helicopter that crashed near Greece on Wednesday is being remembered for his positivity and passion for flying and adventure.
Capt. Kevin Hagen, originally of Nanaimo, was one of six Canadian Forces members aboard a Cyclone Helicopter that crashed into the Mediterranean Sea as it was returning to the Halifax-based frigate, HMCS Fredericton.
After a three-day search, military officials said Friday that the effort had transitioned to a recovery mission.
Kyle Hagen described his brother, Kevin as the “perfect brother” to him and his sister.
“He’s been a shining example of truth, duty and valour for us. We’ve been proud of him our whole lives, he’s been my closest friend, and I can’t describe how hard his loss has been for us,” he said in a Facebook message.
Prior to serving in the military, Hagen was a member of the Air Cadets in Victoria, where as a youth he met Kyrle Symons.
“He always had this smile that was just plastered on his face that never seemed to go away,” Symons said.
“He was always light-hearted. There was never a bad time, it was always fun and joy.”
The two received their gilder licences together and went on to be classmates at Royal Military College in Kingston.
Symons, who went on to be an air force combat systems officer, said the tragedy has had an impact on veterans and service members alike, whom he described as an “instant family.”
“Kevin got to follow his dream,” Symons said.
“He went right from all aviation courses we did together, right through getting his glider pilot licence, his power pilot licence, and then followed his dream. He died doing what he loved.”
The other missing Canadian Forces members have been identified as Capt. Brenden Ian MacDonald of New Glasgow, N.S.; Capt. Maxime Miron-Morin from Trois-Rivieres, Que.; Sub-Lt. Matthew Pyke from Truro, N.S.; and Master Cpl. Matthew Cousins from Guelph, Ont.
Search crews recovered and identified the remains of Sub-Lt. Abbigail Cowbrough at the crash site.
With files from the Canadian Press