WVa remembers native son killed in Afghan crash

West Virginians paid homage Sunday to a highly decorated member of the Navy who was among 30 U.S. servicemen killed in an Aug. 6 helicopter crash in Afghanistan.

Hundreds of people, many holding American flags, lined the street outside Parkersburg South High School as a private memorial service was held inside for Chief Petty Officer Nicholas H. Null, the News and Sentinel reported.

Acting Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin ordered flags lowered to half-staff in memory of Null.

Null, 30, of Washington, W.Va., was an explosive ordnance disposal technician. He served in Iraq and Afghanistan and earned two Bronze Stars, one with valor. Null joined the Navy in 2000 and had been stationed in Virginia Beach since 2007, reporting to a SEAL team in 2009.

Tammi Griswold came out to support Null's mother. She said she lost a son in a car accident.

"I know what a mama feels when she loses her child," Griswold said. "My heart goes out for that mom and that is who I am here for."

Matthew Richards said he went to school with Null and his wife, Tanya.

"We thought we owed it to them to be here," he said.

Sue Knight, whose husband is a veteran, said she came out of respect.

"I appreciate him giving his life for us," she said. "I felt like this was where I needed to be."

Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., said his office presented Null's family with a flag that flew over the U.S. Capitol on the day he was killed.

"Courageous people like him, driven by a desire to serve our country, selflessly volunteer to take on some of the most dangerous and important missions to protect their fellow troops and the American people from harm," Rockefeller said in a statement.

"Nick did that for all of us, and West Virginians everywhere should pause today in reflection of his sacrifice."