NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — “Dan will truly be missed from everyone,” said DeAndera Payne, a Metro police sergeant.  

It was a solemn tribute for one of the two Tennessee National Guardsmen killed in a helicopter crash last month. The body of Chief Warrant Officer 3 Daniel Wadham returned to Nashville on Wednesday, March 1.

“The entire time we are driving to the funeral home I am just in disbelief, like this can’t be Daniel,” Payne said.  

Payne knew Wadham as a colleague and a friend.  

“Speaking of him in past tense, it’s a hard thing to do,” Payne said.  

Wadham worked on the front lines with Payne for the Metro Nashville Police Department until 2020. He also served in the Tennessee National Guard for 15 years.   

In February, Wadham and Chief Warrant Officer 3 Danny Randolph lost their lives during a training flight near Huntsville, Alabama.   

“When I saw his name, my stomach dropped. My stomach dropped and I went to his Facebook page and then called him,” Payne said. 

He said the reality settled in for him Wednesday when Wadham’s body was returned home to Nashville. Around 100 vehicles escorted him to his hometown.   

“It was overwhelming. It was overwhelming and the biggest thing of it all, Daniel would think this is too much for this, because he put himself last and everyone else first,” Payne said.  

Wadham was tasked with protecting and serving not only the city of Nashville, but his country.  

“It’s not just a job. Every day you’re putting yourself last and everyone else first, and Daniel gave the ultimate sacrifice…he’s just a great person and I’m honored and blessed to be friends with him,” Payne said.  

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Wadham will be laid to rest Thursday, March 2 in his hometown of Joelton.

Tennessee National Guardsmen, family and community members will also say goodbye to Randolph, whose body will be returned home to Nashville Thursday afternoon.