Who knew that one icon would play such contrasting roles in the life of Navy Lt. Patrick Myrick?
The Kenmore native masqueraded as a Viking during his senior year of high school, serving as Inglemoor High’s mascot during sporting events and assemblies.
It was a role that allowed him to showcase his trademark charisma.
That same icon would ultimately figure in Myrick’s demise.
The naval aviator died Aug. 10, 2004, at the age of 31 when his S-3B Viking surveillance aircraft crashed into the island of Kito Iwo Jima during a training operation.
His life gained added meaning when the University of Washington gave away its first-ever scholarship from an endowment fund established in his honor.
The award went to a student in the school’s aeronautics and astronautics program, as requested by his family, during a May 9 ceremony at the Museum of Flight in Seattle.
“We wanted it to go to someone sort of like Patrick — someone well-rounded who is interested in things outside his major, like community service,” said Patrick’s mother, Meg Myrick.
Patrick earned his bachelor’s degree in aeronautical and astronautical engineering from the UW in 1997.
He took a statistical analyst job with the Rand Corporation in Santa Monica, Calif., after graduating, and became involved in a teen-mentoring program outside of work.
But Patrick’s true love was flying, according to his mother.
“He loved ‘Star Wars’ growing up, and he loved the Blue Angels,” she said. “We took a trip on an aircraft carrier during SeaFair in 1989, and he was just totally jazzed. He thought it was the best thing.
“I think it all blended together and fed his love of flying.”
Patrick enlisted in the Navy in 1998, before he was too old to qualify for service.
“We had quite a few conversations, and I tried to play devil’s advocate,” Meg said. “He was very steadfast in that decision. He had made up his mind to achieve his goal, which was to fly jets.
“I had to recognize that it was his dream, and try not to be too overprotective.”
Patrick joined the Navy because he wanted to land on aircraft carriers, something renowned for being difficult.
“That was his style,” said friend Paul Siemering. “He was all in.”
Patrick earned his commission in 1999 at the Pensacola, Fla., Officer Candidate School, where he met a fellow naval officer who would later become his wife, Alli Myrick.
The couple had one daughter, Julia Tatum Myrick.
Patrick received his naval aviation wings in 2001.
He achieved more than 300 career landings, many of which occurred in 2003 during Operation Iraqi Freedom, for which he was awarded the Navy’s Air Medal.
“He said landing on an aircraft carrier was one of the scariest ways to fly, and one of the most exhilarating,” Meg said. “He loved it.”
Patrick’s S-3B Viking, an aging aircraft that the military has since decommissioned, crashed into the face of a volcano, killing all four members of its crew.
The accident was a surprise to Patrick’s mother, who claims she fretted most over her son’s safety when he was flying combat missions during the “shock-and-awe” phase of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
“Once he came back from the Persian Gulf, I figured I didn’t have to worry quite so much,” she said.
The Navy eventually recovered Patrick’s remains, along with those of the other crew members.
“It was a revelation,” Meg said. “I thought I was a little more Zen than that, but it really did matter when they found his remains. I just broke down.”
Patrick was buried with full honors alongside his father, a career Naval officer, at Arlington National Cemetery.
There were four other memorials: one on board the USS Stennis aircraft carrier, another at Naval Air Station North Island in Coronado, Calif., and a final service in Kenmore.
Patrick’s local acquaintances outnumbered his own family members at the Kenmore ceremony, according to his mother, who says her son was good at building relationships and keeping them.
“Patrick was a special guy,” said Dustin Hubbard, a friend of Patrick’s since grade school. “He was funny, charismatic and pretty adventurous. People naturally wanted to be around him.”