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'The best of America': Family of pilot killed fighting fire thanks Coloradans for support

In the middle of a tragedy, Marc Thor Olson's family found what they describe as the "best of America" when they came to Colorado for a funeral procession.

COLORADO, USA — In the middle of a tragedy, the family of Marc Thor Olson found what they describe as the "best of America" when they came to Colorado for a funeral procession.

Olson was killed earlier this month while fighting a wildfire in Estes Park from a plane at night. His plane crashed into the mountain in windy weather.

RELATED: Procession honors pilot who died in air tanker crash while fighting Kruger Rock Fire

Olson’s family sent 9NEWS reporter Marc Sallinger a letter, sharing their gratitude for the people of Colorado and everyone who helped. We wanted to share that with everyone else. 

Below is the letter written by Kent and Kim Olson, Thor's brother and sister-in-law:

Best of America

By the Family of Marc Thor Olson

The tragic death of Marc Thor Olson left our family devastated. While our brother lived a very private life, he died a very public death when reports of his air-tanker aircraft accident appeared on the nightly news across the country.  Social media tracked that last flight, the rescue and recovery efforts, and his memorial procession.

As reported, Marc was trying to make history by fighting wildfires at night.  If he could prove this concept, it would save lives, property, and contain fires that would otherwise expand in the dark. 

Credit: KUSA

History was made, but it would come nearly a week later with his final 85-mile journey.  For over the two hours traveled, our grieving family witnessed the best of America from the windows of our vehicles.  In the cool Colorado morning on the route from Ft Collins to Ft Morgan, men, women, and children raised American flags, held hats and hands over their hearts. First responders stood at attention, rendered salutes and vehicles yielded to the mile-long procession as a sign of respect.

The broadcast of Marc’s procession captured Americans united in honoring a fallen veteran, firefighter, and our brother. He was a stranger to them, but that didn’t matter, for in those moments, Marc was their brother, too.

To the men and women who made those unforgettable moments possible, thank-you. To those who represented the best of humanity, we thank you, too.  Marc Thor Olson did indeed make history, reminding us that we are all connected in a common bond of service and sacrifice.

- Kent & Kim Olson

RELATED: Remembering the man killed fighting the Kruger Rock Fire from the air at night

RELATED: Deadly crash doesn't mean firefighting at night is over

Credit: KUSA

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