JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - While Rhonda Riney may not have known the Leach family personally, she said military families needed to stick together.
"This community is too big," Riney said. "There's too many of us Marine moms for any of us to stand alone. As a matter of fact, it's too large for anyone in the military or family to stand alone."
Riney helped organize a benefit dinner for Sgt. Talon Leach's family in Jefferson City on Saturday. Leach, part of the Marine's 2nd Raider Battalion, died in a helicopter crash in Mississippi last month, along with 15 others. Leach was a graduate of North Callaway High School, and a member of the special operations Radier Battalion based out of Camp Lejune, North Carolina.
The event was held at the American Legion Post 5 on Tanner Bridge Road in Jefferson City. People paid for a chicken dinner, alongside a 50/50 raffle and silent auction. Riney said the proceeds would be split evenly between Leach's mother and father.
Riney, the mother of a Marine herself, said the family also needed morale support from the community at this point.
"Our boys and girls go to serve, but so does the family," Riney said. "The moms, the dads, sisters, brothers, wives, we're the ones home on knees, praying."
The July crash was one of two deadly plane crashes that led to the Marine Corps ordering a 24-hour operational pause in flights. Three Marines died last week off the Australian coast in an MV-22 Osprey. Leach and others died in July when a KC-130T transporting people and supplies crashed in west Mississippi. The Corps' operational pause will allow Marines to review flight safety measures, and can be taken at any time in the next two weeks by commanders, according to the Marines commandant.