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Family, friends remember Navy service member with Arizona ties killed in aircraft crash

The Navy said Lt. Hyrum Hanlon died Wednesday night after the aircraft he and two others were flying in went down off the coast of Virginia.

PHOENIX — Sitting in an aircraft with a big smile on his face in his Navy uniform is where Lt. Hyrum Hanlon was meant to be. 

“He was definitely made for that,” Byran Hanlon said.  

But to his family and friends, he was much more than his service.  

“You name a positive quality and he had it,” his brother, Bryan Hanlon said.

A 'Renaissance Man' describes Bryan. He was also charismatic, a good friend but on top of all, a great brother. 

“His legacy is definitely just one of determination, but also just fund and appreciation for the things that the world has to offer,” Bryan Hanlon said

Hyrum, a native of Snowflake, leaves behind six siblings, including Bryan. 

Upon graduating from Arizona State University in 2017, Hyrum was commissioned into the Navy and set off to become a pilot.

“If he had any say, he was going to do everything he could to make it possible to go to space,” Bryan Hanlon said.

But Wednesday night off the coast of Virginia Hyrum and two other crew members went down in an E-2D Advanced Hawkeye during a routine flight operation, the Navy said. 

“Nothing was supposed to go wrong, but that’s when it does," Bryan Hanlon said. 

The Navy said two crew members were rescued with non-life-threatening injuries and Hyrum was found dead inside the aircraft.

The Navy said they’re still trying to figure out why the aircraft went down in the first place.

“I think if it happened, and how it undoubtedly did, was he played a part in saving those other two,” Bryan Hanlon said.

Hyrum made everyone who entered his life feel a part of his family. 

“Everybody felt special with Hyrum because they were to him,” Shawna Murphy Woner said.

Murphy Woner first met Hyrum when he befriended her kids while they attended ASU together.

“He was brilliant, very, very bright. If he had 10 minutes of free time, he would read Tolstoy, Dostoevsky. He'd pick up astronomy or physics, but at the same time, we love Battlestar Galactica and Star Wars,” Murphy Woner said.

While he had big goals and aspirations, it’s how he made others feel that he was leaving behind.

“Everybody that he touched, he left better,” Murphy Woner said. “We all need to be a little more like Hyrum.”

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