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In Memoriam

Sara A. Medina

Born November 27, 1991

At Rest May 12, 2015

Cpl. Sara Medina, a 2010 graduate of East Aurora High School, was killed while on a relief mission in Nepal last week.

The U.S. Department of Defense confirmed Sunday that Medina was one of eight people killed when the helicopter they were riding in crashed in the mountains northeast of Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal. The helicopter was reported missing on Tuesday, May 12.

The helicopter was delivering rice and tarps to areas that were hit hardest by the earthquake. The helicopter had dropped supplies at its first site, and was headed to a second location when it went missing, the Marine Corps Times reported. The helicopter was recovered Friday. The Nepalese and Indian governments participated in the search and recovery, the Department of Defense reported.

"This tragedy is a reminder of the vital but dangerous role that American service members play in delivering humanitarian assistance and disaster relief," said U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter.

East Aurora High School teacher Grace Millar-Laxton had Medina in her ESL class as a freshman and sophomore. As a young student, Medina had a tough-girl attitude. But Millar-Laxton saw tremendous brains and potential.

"I just knew something about Sara. If you've been in the teaching game for a while, you can spot it," Millar-Laxton said. "Sara was the kind of girl who was up for a challenge and I saw that early on."

Millar-Laxton saw Medina change from a very fresh freshman to a very serious student with big goals. At East Aurora High School, she was a member of NJROTC. During high school, she also did clerical work in a mechanic shop, but didn't hesitate to get in and change oil or fix mufflers, said East Aurora High School teacher Obed Mendoza. Mendoza said Medina was always tough and independent.

As a senior, Medina would return to Millar-Laxton's class to talk about her future. She mentioned she was considering enlisting in the Marines.

"She wanted to serve her country. I think she thought it was going to teach her," Millar-Laxton said. "She was looking for the experience. She thought that would be good for."

Medina was serving as a combat photographer on the relief mission, documenting the work done by Marines and the need for assistance in Nepal, which has been hit by two massive earthquakes. According the Marine Corps Times, before being deployed to Nepal, Medina had photographed Marines in South Korea, the Philippines, Japan, Australia and the U.S.

After enlisting, Medina returned to her high school to talk to other Tomcats. In uniform, she visited classes to tell current students the importance of getting a good education.

In her most recent visit, she spoke to a teacher about how, through her military service, she was seeing parts of the world she had only dreamed about in high school.

The entire East Aurora family mourns with her family and friends. All Tomcats thank Cpl. Sara Medina for her service to our country and to our community.

This was to be Medina's last tour of duty and was planning on returning to Illinois in January.

Sara was engaged and planned to marry in August.




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