by: Peter Daut Updated:
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Josh Marlowe's family said he had flown countless times on C-130 planes, most recently, during his fifth tour of duty in Afghanistan. The 28-year-old Air National Guardsman from Shelby was at home helping his wife care for their 2-month-old son Friday, when he found out he needed to help fight wildfires in South Dakota.
"We're all just really proud of Josh and his courage," his mother-in-law, Martha Ledford, said.
Ledford said when the plane left Charlotte Saturday, her daughter never imagined that less than 48 hours later, she'd get a call saying the plane had crashed, killing four of its six crew members.
"It was just pretty devastating, especially for his wife," Ledford said.
But Marlowe was still alive. He was the load master of the crew and in the back of the plane when it crashed, which his family credits for his survival. Doctors worried about bleeding on the brain and broken ribs, but upgraded his condition from critical to serious.
With his wife now by his side in a South Dakota hospital room, friends and family back in Shelby are hopeful he'll be able to see his newborn baby grow up.
"Really, there's just no words to describe how thankful we are that he's alive and improving," Ledford said.
Anyone who would like to help his family can bring donations to the Zoar Baptist Church in Shelby.