U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Garland V. Hailey, a former Morgan State University student known as an "everyday kind of person, who could get along anywhere, with anyone," was killed Saturday in a helicopter crash in Saudi Arabia.
The Blackhawk helicopter, assigned to the 236th Air Ambulance Co., 818th Medical Battalion, 332nd Medical Group, VII Corps, also was carrying two patients, a medic and three crew members when it had mechanical difficulties and crashed, according to family members who live in Baltimore.
"An officer from Fort Meade said the helicopter had a malfunction. He didn't survive the injuries, they said. There were other people on board, and he was the only one not to survive," said Albert Booker Jr., Sergeant Hailey's brother-in-law.
Sergeant Hailey was a medical evacuation specialist, "doing what he wanted to do" when he died, said his mother, Margaret Hailey, a nursing assistant at Mercy Hospital.
"He was a beautiful person. He loved his family, we loved him. He loved his career. He loved his country."
The 37-year-old was born in Wadesboro, N.C., and raised there by his grandmother, Sadie Hailey. He attended Morgan State University for two years and joined the Army to serve in Vietnam in the early 1970s.
He was stationed for two years at Fort Meade, and had two tours of duty in Korea -- one of them from 1980 to 1981 with his brother, Gavalian Hailey, an Army Reserve sergeant in the Towson-based 29th Signal Battalion.
"I was proud to be there. He was my older brother. I was proud to serve with him," said Gavalian Hailey, who lives in Baltimore. "I'm really upset right now."
While in Korea, Garland Hailey met his wife, Hye Cha Hailey. She and the couple's 5-year-old son live in Germany, which was the soldier's previous duty station.
Sergeant Hailey is also survived by his father, General Motors employee Billy Hailey, and two sisters, Grace Hailey and Gwen Hailey Booker, all of Baltimore; and his grandmother, Sadie Hailey of Wadesboro, N.C.
The family had watched a news report of the crash Saturday night, but were unaware that he had been aboard the helicopter until they were notified yesterday morning, Grace Hailey said.
Sergeant Hailey was known as a video buff and an aficionado of music and electronic equipment, who also had a penchant for organization.
He was the "businesslike" member of the family, who always "kept his papers in order," said Mr. Booker. But he was also "outgoing. He enjoyed people. He could fit in anywhere. He loved his family."
Sergeant Hailey, who was sent to the Persian Gulf in early December, tried to telephone his mother last week because she wasn't feeling well, said his sister Grace Hailey. "But she was at work. I talked to him and he said it was 'rough' over there. He wanted to talk to his mother. He's a medic evacuation expert, you know. He was helping people when he died."