Capt. Sean Elliott, one of the plane’s pilots, had a longtime love affair with the C-130. His father, John Elliott, tells San Diego’s Union-Tribune that his son used to take a model C-130 loaded with toy soldiers to bed when he was four.
“He slept with it like you would a teddy bear,” John Elliott said. “A big plane, in the bed. A silly plastic thing, with the toy soldiers inside. It went to bed with him every night for quite a long time.”
His mother, Cynthia Elliott, said her son was “enamored” with aircraft and the military at least since attending a childhood air show.
A prep standout in tennis, the 6-foot 2-inch Elliott was renowned for a booming serve. His younger brother Erik went pro, but Sean Elliott went to officers’ school, graduating from the University of California, Davis.
“He was always looking out for others, starting with me but then continuing to his fraternity brothers and his Marines,” Erik Elliott said.
Elliott got his Marine Corps call sign “Puffin” because he refused to hunt the nesting and defenseless birds during a stopover in Iceland, his father said.