Airport Building Named After Fallen Norwood Veteran

Donna Lane
Issue Date: 
February, 2019
Article Body: 

Losing a family member is never easy, but losing a child is arguably the most devastating of all. So it is not surprising that both Anita and Joe Welch, parents of the late Major Mark C. Welch, when interviewed for this article found it difficult to express how they felt about the Norwood Airport Commission’s announcement that they would re-name the snow removal equipment/administration building for their son.
“I’m very appreciative,” Joe said with a lump forming in his throat. “I had no idea they were going to do this.”
Joe is proud that his son will be honored in this way and believes that he deserves the honor, but also acknowledges that there are many others who have also served our country heroically who are also deserving.
Retired U.S. Marine Corps Major Mark Welch died nearly three years ago (April 10, 2016), just shy of his 45th birthday. His mom, Anita, says that growing up, Mark was “mischievous, adventuresome, and above all his own person.”
“He seemed to really come into his own while attending Xaverian High School and had his heart set on attending the US Naval Academy after he graduated,” she said. He was accepted to Annapolis in 1989 and graduated in 1993. He loved animals and he really cared about people.”
Anita’s assessment of her son’s concern for others would be borne out many times as he carried out missions in numerous war zones.
“Mark could have done anything he wanted,” Joe said. “He was smart, funny, and well-liked. I still get calls and cards from some of his buddies. They have told me that any time they had to go into a combat situation, they wanted to fly with Mark because they knew they could get the job done and get home safely.”
This isn’t just a father’s pride talking. Mark Welch received many awards and commendations from his superiors during his near-20-years of service to our country. As a helicopter pilot, he served two tours in Iraq, and was assigned missions in Afghanistan, Bosnia and Kosovo. The CH46E helicopter he flew was used to transport combat troops, supplies and equipment. It was also used for combat support, search and rescue, casualty evacuation and tactical recovery of aircraft and personnel. Many of the missions he flew involved considerable risk under combat conditions.
One of his missions in Iraq started out as a simple transport but was changed shortly after pickup to a marine rescue. His talent and bravery were recognized in his recommendation for a commendation.
“The Marine casualties were rapidly and successfully evacuated as a direct result of outstanding crew coordination, extreme courage under fire, superior airmanship and quick thinking from Captain Welch,” his commanding officer said. “For these reasons, I recommend the Distinguished Flying Cross, with Combat Distinguishing Device, be awarded.”
Various commanding officers selected Major Welch to lead numerous divisions and sections under combat conditions in Albania and Macedonia. His evaluations were consistently outstanding, one specifically stand out prior to his rise to ranking Major.
‘A team player...possesses exceptional aviation and flight leadership skills; handpicked to fly and lead the most difficult of combat missions in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom; recommended for the Distinguished Flying Cross during heroic lifesaving CASEVAC mission into An Nasiriyah, Iraq. Greatly contributed to squadron’s success in safely flying ... 629 combat sorties during the major combat operations period.’
During his distinguished service, Major Welch received both the Kosovo and Afghan Service Medals, the Navy and Marine Achievement Medal, the National Defense Service Medal and four Presidential Unit Citation awards for heroism.
The Town of Norwood now salutes Major Welch by re-naming the snow removal equipment/administration building in his honor.
Semper Fi Major Welch. Semper Fi!