'He was my hero before he was everybody's hero': Family mourns man killed in helicopter crash
NANAIMO -- A Vancouver Island man killed this week during a military exercise near Greece is being remembered as a hero and someone passionate about his country.
Captain Kevin Hagen was one of six military personnel who are presumed dead following the crash of their Cyclone helicopter into the Ionian Sea.
"I'm going to remember him as my little hero and he was my hero before he was everybody's hero," said Kyle Hagen of his brother Kevin.
Kyle says his family, like other Canadians, is still looking for answers as to what caused the Sikorsky CH-148 chopper his brother was riding in to crash as it was returning to a frigate during a NATO exercise.
"He knew that our deployments and our presence was really important to Canadians and to our allies and he taught us that, our family," Kyle said.
Kyle said a lot of military personnel and Kevin's friends have been reaching out since news of the accident first broke.
"There hasn't been much time to process it," he said. "There's been a lot of crying together and a lot of coming together over it."
Kyle said his brother loved his country and the people he served with and had a very sincere laugh and smile, something echoed by Kryle Symons, a friend who went through Air Cadets and glider training at 19 Wing Comox.
Symons also says Kevin had a particular way of sitting.
"Kevin had this little bit of a hunch to him, but that was kind of a Kevin thing. His smile, he always had a smile on his face," Symons said.
Amongst the locations on Vancouver Island Kevin called home was Nanaimo, where Mayor Leonard Krog said everyone is feeling the effect of his loss.
"It touches home for people in Nanaimo that someone so young who had committed his career and his life to service of his country in our armed services should pass this way," Krog said. "(It) is a tragedy, I think, felt by all of us."