By Shawn Nowlin, email@example.com
For most people, they discover their life’s calling after they become an adult. For James “Jimmy” Buriak, his family knew at an early age that whatever field he entered, it would be to serve others. Buriak’s ultimate aim in life, according to those closest to him, was to help as many people on the planet as possible.
Tragically, Buriak, 31, was one of five sailors who died on August 31 after a Navy helicopter crash off the California coast. All five individuals who perished were assigned to the Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 8 crew.
Many immediately went on social media to express their sorrow once the news became public.
“I met you through Britt and Dave while you guys were at college and as one of Dave’s groomsmen when they got married. What an amazing young man you were. Thank you for your service to this country. You paid the ultimate sacrifice, and your time came too soon. My condolences, thoughts and prayers go out to your family. RIP my friend,” said Leilani Naylor.
Expressed Matthew Walter, “I hated hearing this news. I know you won’t read this, but hopefully somewhere up there you’ll see it. Carolyn and I have been talking about the old days when you guys worked at Enterprise together and would come visit me at Hot Tuna. Thank you for your service, Jimmy. Thank you for all the laughs and the beers together, you were an incredible guy.”
Raised in Salem, Buriak was an alumnus of both Salem High School and Roanoke College. His father, Jim, is a retired Roanoke College Athletic Trainer and Associate Professor of Health and Human Performance. The Office of Alumni & Family Relations released the following statement before press time, ”We send our deepest sympathies to the family and to all of those touched by Jimmy’s passing and this tragedy.”
In 2017, Buriak joined the Navy and served as a rescue swimmer. In February 2020, he rescued a tourist swimming in Gun Beach, Guam. When interviewed immediately afterward, he stated, “I would like to think regardless of who it was, they would have done the same. Someone said they needed help, and anyone would do the same in my shoes.”
The other four individuals who died in the crash were Lt. Bradley A. Foster, 29, a pilot from Oakhurst, California; Lt. Paul R. Fridley, 28, a pilot from Annandale, Virginia; Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Sarah F. Burns, 31, from Severna Park, Maryland and Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Bailey J. Tucker, 21, from St. Louis, Missouri.
Jimmy is survived by his wife, son, father, mother, Carol Buriak, sister, Laura Buriak, and brother-in-law, Erik Zickefoose. A GoFundMe page was created in his honor. Individuals interested in donating can visit https://www.gofundme.com/f/aws2-james-buriak. An investigation into everything that happened is currently underway.