Many at CU are mourning the loss of 2006 graduate and Marine Corps 1st Lt. Thomas Claiborne.
Claiborne was identified by the military as being on a Marine Corps AH-1W Super Cobra helicopter when it collided with a Coast Guard C-130 airplane last Thursday evening off the coast of San Diego, California. He was among nine people believed to have been killed in the crash.
At CU, Trudy Schwartz, senior instructor in aerospace engineering, remembers Claiborne as a hardworking, dedicated student.
“He was a very good student and was very serious about his work,” Schwartz said.
Schwartz said she got to know Claiborne while he was working on his senior project before graduating from the aerospace engineering program. His team’s project was a rotating fan blade experiment, where he took the aerodynamics lead.
“We were very proud of the work his team did,” Schwartz said. “We definitely remember him and remember his dedication. When we heard of his loss, we all shed many a tear.”
Claiborne was also involved in CU’s naval ROTC program. Retired Marine Colonel Greg Akers, the current director of Veteran Affairs, served as the commanding officer of his unit.
“He was a fine young officer, one of the best that came out of our officer class,” Akers said. “It is a great loss…It is always painful when you lose a colleague.”
But Akers confronted Claiborne’s loss with a measure of understanding.
“How you die is as important as you live,” Akers said. “He was doing what he wanted to do and he wanted to serve in that capacity.”
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Rose Heaphy at Josephine.email@example.com.