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Small town remembers Marine killed in Hawaii helicopter crash


    Brian Lulay, a friend of the Hart family, salutes his friend Ty Hart at a memorial service at Stayton High School in Stayton, Ore., on Saturday. Lance Cpl. Hart was one of the 12 Marines who died Jan. 14 when two military helicopters collided during training exercises in Hawaii. (Molly J. Smith/Statesman-Journal)

STAYTON, Ore. >> “How do you measure a man like Ty? Take a look around.”

The people in the packed gymnasium at Stayton High School glanced among themselves Saturday afternoon as Principal Alan Kirby spoke about his memories of Ty Hart while attending the school.

“Look at how many of us are here. Look at how many of us have had our lives enhanced because we knew Ty,” Kirby said.

Lance Cpl. Ty Hart was one of the 12 Marines who died Jan. 14 when two military helicopters collided during training exercises in Hawaii. Hart served as a CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter crew chief.

Saturday’s memorial service for Hart lasted more than two hours. It included several speakers, plus a video slideshow about his life, and military honors.

Hart graduated from Stayton High School in 2012. “I have a lot of fond memories as a teacher and a coach here, and Ty is right at the middle of them,” Kirby remarked.

Perhaps the biggest quality that Hart possessed was his ability to brighten up a whole room with his smile and his tendency to make people laugh.

That smile “was even on his face during wrestling matches when he was all tied up,” Kirby said.

Kirby then recalled how Hart and his wife, Hanna, met in the early years of high school. Hart was picking up yard markers and pylons as his football coach had instructed him to do — though he threw in his usual trademark humor by attempting to stack them taller than he was — when Hanna and a few of her friends from Molalla High School began talking with him.

Eventually, Hanna’s friends began shouting out her phone number at him; he texted her shortly thereafter, and things took off from there. Ty and Hanna Hart were married last summer on June 27.

After Kirby left the podium, Lance Cpl. Wyatt Bella spoke about Hart, with whom he lived for seven to eight months.

“He loved you guys and he loved this city,” Bella said to the crowd. “If Ty were here today, he’d find something to do to make us all laugh.”

Bella spoke about the moments surrounding the incident in Hawaii when he woke up to a number of text messages from his father asking whether he was OK. Bella then checked the news and saw for himself.

“In that first moment, all of us thought, ‘This can’t be real. This can’t be happening,’” he said.

Bella went on to tell several stories that described the typical nature of Hart, including when Hart almost got kicked out of a store when he insisted on being able to purchase an entire pallet of Fruit by the Foot fruit roll-up snacks, as well as when Hart brought home a 2.5-pound steak and proceeded to eat it by himself.

“He was a good man. He was one of my best friends,” Bella said. “He always attacked each day with a smile.

“Through all of the sadness and chaos, I still laugh at him, I still laugh at his jokes.”

Many of Hart’s football teammates from high school attended the memorial service sporting their jerseys. They took a group photo with Hart’s number 83 jersey at the center.

“He wasn’t really an outspoken guy, but he always meant what he said and did what he said he was going to do,” said Levi Kunkel, a 2012 graduate of Stayton High School and former teammate of Hart’s.

Brian Lulay, a longtime family friend and work associate of Ty’s father, Mike, spoke about Hart as he watched him grow up over the years. He recalled a time when he found Hart with a mouthful of granulated sugar that he had eaten to try to give himself energy after a long day of school.

It was one of many stories that highlighted Hart’s playful nature and sweet tooth. A memorial display of a pallet of Fruit by the Foot snacks was placed outside the gym in the foyer, along with the provision of the snack to all after the service had concluded.

“It was an absolute blessing to have this young kid that I met, and the man he turned out to be, be a part of my life,” Lulay said.

The Ty Hart Memorial Scholarship has been founded as a way to support high school athletics. It has raised $12,170 from 190 donations as of Saturday and can be found at


Information from: Statesman Journal,

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