The US Marine Corps is investigating the death of Marine Operational Test and Evaluation Squadron One, after he was found dead in Arizona late last month.
Lieutenant Colonel Brett Hart was mere days from retirement when he took his own life, and his memorial service was held on the same day his retirement ceremony had been scheduled for.
“No rank is immune to suicide, not even an O-5 in the Marine Corps with over 30 years of service and one week away from retirement,” Marine veteran Samuel Grayman wrote on Facebook. “RIP Lt. Col Brett A. Hart, it was an honor to serve under your command at VMMT-204.”
Captain Christopher Harrison told Task & Purpose that the incident was under investigation, and that details would be available once the investigation was completed.
Enlisting in 1989 as a military policeman, Hart eventually became and officer and entered pilot training. After becoming a naval aviator, he flew the CH-46E Sea Knight until 2006, when he began flying MV-22 Ospreys.
An experienced instructor with well over 2,600 flight hours, Hart was known as “Stork” (a reference to a character in the film Animal House) and was beloved by those who served with him.
“Lt. Col. Hart was an exceptional leader who cared deeply for his family, the Corps, and his fellow Marines,” Col. Peter L. McArdle, commanding officer of VMX-1, told Task & Purpose. “We are deeply saddened by the loss of a great leader and friend, and we remain steadfast in our commitment to support his family throughout this difficult time.”
Hart leaves behind a wife and two children- and his death serves as a reminder that military suicide is indifferent to rank, status or occupation.
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