Helicopter pilot killed in crash remembered as father, hero

Fort Lewis paid homage Monday to a helicopter pilot who died in Iraq just a few weeks into his deployment there.

Chief Warrant Officer Scott A.M. Oswell died July 4 after his aircraft struck electrical wires and crashed in Mosul. The co-pilot was injured but survived.

Oswell and his wife, Cheri, bought a house in Thompson Place, just outside Lacey, in May, property records show. They had three children, ages 13, 11 and 4.

Addressing friends, family and fellow soldiers gathered Monday for Oswell’s memorial, Chief Warrant Officer Andre Saenz recited a poem titled “Farewell My Friend.”

“Try not to mourn,” he read. “Our friend can still fly, on angel’s wings, through a limitless sky.”

Oswell, who piloted OH-58 Kiowa Warrior helicopters, deployed last month with the 4th Squadron, 6th Air Cavalry. It was his second tour of Iraq.

“I could not be more proud that I flew into battle with your son by my side,” Chief Warrant Officer Michael Spalsbury said, speaking to Oswell’s mother, Nancy, of Colorado Springs, Colo.

Caitlyn Oswell, one of the late pilot’s daughters, composed a poem that was included in the memorial program: The first verse reads: “My dad is my hero, he’s brave strong and true, I’ll always look up to him, and I am sure you do too.”

Oswell joined the Marine Corps in 1991. In 2001, he joined the Army, became a warrant officer and trained to be a helicopter pilot.

Oswell served 13 months in Iraq with an aviation squadron from Wheeler Army Airfield in Hawaii in 2004-05, and afterward was assigned to Fort Lewis as an instructor pilot.

Spalsbury said the 33-year-old was known for his “ability to complain about almost everything” and earned the nickname “Negatron.”

Oswell wasn’t afraid to put himself in harm’s way, Spalsbury recalled. One night, the two flew out to investigate a suspicious glimmer of light along a supply route to Baghdad. They discovered an insurgent, rocket-propelled grenade in hand.

Hovering well within the enemy’s range, Oswell told Spalsbury “This guy is not going to get away.”

He was the 138th Fort Lewis service member to die in the Iraq war – the 46th to die in the northern city of Mosul.

Oswell, the only member of his unit to be killed in the war, was memorialized alone Monday. Fort Lewis will hold another ceremony today for a pair of Stryker infantrymen with the 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division.

Christian Hill, military reporter for The Olympian, contributed to this report.