Above, Army Staff Sgt. Tanner Grone is pictured.
GORHAM – As a cold winter wind whipped American flags lining Gorham’s Main Street, and storefront signs gave thanks for his life, hundreds gathered in the gym at Gorham Middle-High School Saturday to say goodbye to Army Staff Sgt. Tanner W. Grone, 25.
The Gorham man was killed Nov. 10 in service to his nation when the helicopter he was in crashed over the Mediterranean killing all five aboard.
Gov. Chris Sununu ordered flags to be flown at half-staff for the day in honor of Grone, a 2016 Gorham High graduate who was assigned to the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment out of Fort Campbell, Kentucky.
The Department of Defense said there was an “in-flight emergency” when the helicopter crashed.
The crew was assigned to the region since the Hamas attacks on Israel Oct. 7 and was performing a routine refueling mission when the helicopter went down.
Others killed in the crash include Sgt. Cade M. Wolfe, 24 or Mankato, Minnesota; Chief Warrant Officer 2 Shane M. Barnes, 34, of Sacramento, Calif.; Chief Warrant Officer 3 Stephen R. Dwyer, 38, of Clarksville, Tenn.; and Sgt. Andrew P. Southward, 27, of Apache Junction, Ariz.
Grone and his family are well-known in this small North Country town, and the loss was evident to any passerby with signs at outside businesses reading “Thank You Tanner Grone.”
A member of the Lancaster Fire Department stood at the entrance off Mechanic Street with ladder trucks holding a massive American flag. On a hillside in the distance from the school, an American flag – which is a permanent fixture – flapped in the breeze.
Many parked at the former Shaw’s parking lot and climbed aboard school bus shuttles to attend the service.
U.S. Sens. Maggie Hassan and Jeanne Shaheen, both Democrats, attended along with service members from Fort Campbell, local police and many of Grone’s classmates, who returned to bid him a solemn farewell.
He had been deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq but told his family that this would be his last deployment.
He had a career goal of becoming a helicopter pilot.
Those who wrote to the family on the Bryant Funeral Home website, visited by almost 10,000, praised Grone and his family’s sacrifice.
He was born in Berlin, NH on Aug. 18, 1998 and at the age of 3, the family moved to Gorham where he grew up and attended school. He loved soccer in school and made it to the quarter finals in his senior year, a high point for his team. Tanner’s passions included snowboarding and his Subaru WRX STI, according to his obituary.
“Having scored extremely high in ASVAB testing, he was given the choice of any career he wanted. He chose to be a Blackhawk mechanic, with the goal of one day becoming a pilot. He excelled in his career and climbed the ranks quickly to become a Staff Sergeant.”
He became a crew chief on a Blackhawk gunship.
For many in the community, including those who have children now serving, the loss hit home and sounded like their worst possible nightmare.
He was deployed many times, and every time would call his parents and would tell them. “I’m leaving, can’t tell you where I’m going or for how long, love you. Call when I get back” his obituary reads.
Grone was planning on applying for flight school, which would have taken him to Fort Rucker, Alabama where his grandfather served.
“His life and career were cut way too short,” it reads.
“He will be missed but never forgotten by his parents, Erica and Steve; sister Emily and her husband, Mike Lemoine; and Willow; his childhood hometown friends Doug, Jarred, Matt, Justin, Lance and Chris, just to name a few.”
“He was at his happiest and so very content with his career. Having recently bought a house and was just talking about getting a dog. He had a bright future in front of him and had found his true calling in life. Making this tragedy a little easier to accept is that he was doing what he loved and was passionate about. He will be missed by all. Till we meet again, Tanner,” the obituary reads.
In lieu of flowers, donations in Grone’s memory may be made to Fisher House, 116 Purple Heart Drive, Dover AFB, DE 19902.