Mourners spent Independence Day honoring the four Air National Guardsmen killed in a crash in South Dakota.
Many residents visited a small memorial set up at the gates to the 145th Airlift Unit in west Charlotte on Wednesday.
Several left flowers, ribbons and flags to remember Lt. Col. Paul Mikeal, Maj. Joseph McCormick, Maj. Ryan David and Master Sgt. Robbie Cannon.
Others came to pray for their families and the two other guardsmen who are still recovering from injuries sustained in the crash.
"It just moves me. They loved their families, they had kids and wives and the family needed them," said Dennis Strong as he bowed his head to pray.
Air Force veteran Ty Eckard came to salute the memorial, saying, "I feel like I owed them a debt of honor and respect. There's a certain brotherhood, I don't know how else to explain it, it's just a bond."
A local restaurant where the unit often ate also spent Independence Day honoring the fallen. The owner of Pinky's Westside Grill said Robbie Cannon and Paul Mikeal came in at least twice a week, and ate there the night before the crew left for the wildfires.
"What they did there, they were still defending America, they were taking care of their own," said owner Greg Auten.
Auten said the restaurant staff considered the 145th Unit as family members, and so they reserved the men's regular table, number seven, for the day, and draped it in a flag. The table also held a plaque signed by Robbie Cannon, with a flag the unit brought back from Afghanistan.
"Everybody just needs to kind of stop and think about them today, and think about their families, because this is Independence Day, and without them we wouldn't have independence," Auten said.