MADISON COUNTY, Ala. (WKRN) — After two Tennessee National Guardsmen — Chief Warrant Officer 3 Daniel Wadham of Joelton, and Chief Warrant Officer 3 Danny Randolph of Murfreesboro — were killed in a helicopter crash in Alabama earlier this week, News 2 spoke with relatives about the impact of this loss on their families.
“A lot of us go through life and we just punch the clock 8 to 5,” said Mark Hammock, Randolph’s cousin. “That has never been Danny.”
Randolph, 40, grew up as a pastor’s son in Gallatin, close to God and ready with hugs for his large family.
More like brothers than cousins, Randolph followed in Hammock’s footsteps and joined the Army. After deployment to Afghanistan as an air traffic controller, Randolph came home with a burning desire to do more.
“He said, ‘I’m going to flight school,’ and I’m like, ‘Okay, well hang on: air traffic controller, you know, flying helicopters? Let’s kinda talk through it,'” Hammock recalled. “Once he had his mind set to something, he was all in.”
Randolph rose to the rank of chief warrant officer 3, piloting Black Hawks six of the 10 years he served, helping his fellow Americans during the darkest of times, and finding light in the ones back home.
“Out of everything he’s done through his illustrious career, being a father was his most proud achievement,” Hammock said.
With Randolph being a father of four, the news of the crash on Wednesday, Feb. 15 rocked the entire family to the core.
“At that very moment, something inside me broke, and it can’t be repaired,” his cousin told News 2.
It was difficult at times to put into words how much Randolph’s genuine spirit touched those around him.
“This is a hard one,” Hammock said.
However, Hammock takes solace knowing that Randolph, with his kind heart and baritone Southern drawl, is in heaven.
“I don’t want to eat, I don’t want to sleep, I don’t want to breathe, but I hear him over my right shoulder, at my 5 o’clock, and he’s smiling and he’s got his hand on my shoulder — he had a strong hand and his hand is on my shoulder — and he’s saying, ‘Cuz, it’s okay. I’m okay,’ and I have to believe that because I have to go on. I have to be there for his legacy and his family,” Hammock said.
News 2 learned the Black Hawk pilot was returning home after graduating from a training course when something went terribly wrong, resulting in the helicopter crashing in Madison County, Alabama.
If you would like to help the family during this difficult time, Hammock has created a GoFundMe account to help Randolph’s children attend college. You can donate to that fundraiser by following this link.