On January 16, 2012, Cherilyn McGraw from Huntington, North Carolina, was a lucky guest on The Ellen DeGeneres Show where she won one of those silly contests Ellen has. The prize was huge. A trip for two to Australia. Cherilyn was a newlywed, having just gotten married in November of 2011. Cherilyn and her husband, 33-year-old gunnery sergeant Brandon McGraw, a Marine from Camp Lejeune, finally got to take that trip this past weekend.
Brandon has served in both Iraq and Afghanistan and he had just returned from his third tour of duty. He also is an experienced skydiver and had done many jumps before this one. On this trip in Euroa, Australia, Cherilyn did a tandem jump from the plane first. Brandon watched her and then prepared for his own jump. But something went tragically wrong.
It was reported that everything seemed fine with Brandon's jump until just before landing when a gust of wind seemed to make him veer left and right before slamming to the ground. His parachute was deployed. It seems to be a very freak accident. In the 30-year history Euroa Skydive has been in business, there has never been a fatality until now.
Our Marine hero was pronounced dead on the scene after going into cardiac arrest after his fall.
This is so terribly sad. I cannot imagine the devastation his wife and family is going through. Cherilyn wrote on her Facebook page next to the photos of them in the plane, "He was happy and doing what he loved. It's amazing all that photos can capture in a moments time ... I love you more than anything in the world, honey. You are the most amazing man."
The accident is still under investigation. I think you all are feeling what I'm feeling right now. Immense sadness. I have such gratitude for all those who serve and their families. They are all our heroes. My heart goes out to the family, especially Cherilyn.
Does this make you fearful of skydiving?
Image via Honou/Flickr