SHIPMATE July 2016

Greetings 2002,

On July 6th, 2016 we lost a good soul from our class: Erik Boyce. Many of you knew him at the Academy (Systems Engineer, 28th Company). Some of you crawled through the mud at TBS or flew with him in the fleet. He might even have backed up some of the Marines among us with close air support as a Cobra pilot.

As a Marine aviator, Erik “Backstreet” Boyce proved to be the consummate professional. He was winged in 2004, and as part of Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 369 (HMLA-369), the “Gunfighters,” Erik flew the AH-1W Cobra in hundreds of missions during three deployments to Iraq. He led Marines both on the ground as the Legal Officer, Flightline Officer-in-Charge, and Pilot Training Officer and in the air as a flight leader during numerous named combat operations. He was a graduate from the Marine Weapons and Tactics Instructor Course in 2008 and steadfastly mentored those Marines in his care, epitomizing the phrase, “a good Marine.” 

Boyce helicopter.png

After his three combat deployments, he was selected to attend the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School in 2009, graduating in 2010. He was a quiet, humble, and consummate professional who would never have told you that he graduated at the top of his Naval Test Pilot School Class. As a test pilot, Erik brought his deep intellect and eye for detail to every task, big or small. 

In 2013, Erik left active duty to become an experimental test pilot with Bell Helicopter. On the fateful day of July 6, 2016, he was test flying the Bell 525 with a fellow Marine test pilot and friend with whom he served while assigned to Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 31 (VX-31) at NAWS China Lake.

Erik met his wife Sarah while stationed in San Diego, and they have a 9 month old daughter, Theresa. It is heartbreaking that Theresa won't know her father as we knew him.
You can donate to the Boyce family by visiting

Please read Erik’s full obituary, beautifully written by Jason Chen, Deanne Smith, Benjamin Heineike, and Ryan Fair.

Dan Finnegan wrote in with an update:

Long time reader, first contributor. My career path took some twists and turns, and I lost touch with many along the way. I flew MH-60S's out of Norfolk for a while, with classmates Joe Maggi and Scott Halvorsen. I got married in 2007 to Emili Evans, and went on to grad school at Hopkins for computer science. I taught in the CS department at USNA for a couple of years, and served as the O-Rep for the men's gymnastics team. Then the Navy, in its infinite wisdom, decided to send me to Kabul on an IA. After that glorious deployment, I separated, and went to veterinary school at Tufts. Veterinary medicine is a fantastic mix of internal medicine, surgery, case management, public health, and communication. Plus, my license allows me to treat every species on Earth but one. While in school, the Army made me an offer I couldn't refuse (paying for 3 out of 4 years of school), so I'm now a Captain (CPT) in the Army Veterinary Corps. The Navy wings stand out nicely on the Army uniform. I'll be at Fort Belvoir, VA this next year for an internship, so stop by with your pets for some medical care!

For anyone who missed it, be sure to check out Kristen Kavanaugh’s incredible speech at the Democratic National Convention in July!

Mark your calendars for October 20-22, 2017 for USNA Homecoming and our 2002 15-Year Reunion! Our class room block is at Historic Inns of Annapolis, call 1-800-847-8882 to book your room early!

Josh, Pat, Kate, Cari, Charlie, Chad, and John