Written by | Travis Griggs | Pensacola News Journal
Marine Corps 2nd Lt. Patrick Wayland gave his country everything he had to give.
His service. His life. And, in the end, his organs.
Wayland, 24, of Midland, Texas, died at Sacred Heart Hospital over the weekend, after going into cardiac arrest during water survival training Aug. 1 at Pensacola Naval Air Station.
He was pronounced brain dead Friday and removed from life support about 7:30 p.m. Saturday after doctors determined which organs could be donated.
"As a Marine, Patrick swore to serve and give his life to duty, and by donating his organs, he is able to fulfill his obligation to others," Wayland's father, David Wayland, posted in an online journal on Friday.
The young Marine's family traveled from Texas last Tuesday to hold vigil at the hospital. His father's daily updates on the website www.caringbridges.org were viewed more than 14,000 times by Monday afternoon.
Dozens of military friends visited Wayland in the hospital during the weeklong medical struggle, hanging a large Marine Corps flag on the wall.
"The waiting room was full of his classmates and friends," David Wayland wrote last Tuesday. "Support of friends from Annapolis, Quantico (Marine Corps Base) and Pensacola, Marine and Navy chaplains, commanders, pilots and roommates has been nonstop since we arrived last night."
In an attempt to combat swelling in Wayland's brain, doctors cooled his body temperature to about 90 degrees for 24 hours, according to the journal. But by Thursday afternoon, doctors discovered that the damage to his brain and spinal cord were severe.
"Tonight, we are asking for a spiritual miracle. Our hope now is in The Great Physician," David Wayland wrote Thursday, a day before his son was pronounced brain dead.
In the final journal entry Friday afternoon, he thanked the dozens of friends and well-wishers who visited his son during his final days.
"I know we have a long and hard road in front of us, but carry Patrick in your heart, and take comfort in knowing that he is leading God's Army in heaven now," he wrote.
Private funeral services are being arranged, a family friend said Monday. In addition to his father, Wayland is survived by his mother, Carole, and sisters Meagan and Lisa.
Naval Adademy grad
Wayland was a 2010 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy. He earned a civilian pilot license while attending the academy and was assigned to Marine Aviation Training Support Group 21 at Pensacola NAS to begin military flight training. Family members said Wayland was in good physical condition and had no apparent health problems.
He was in the second week of Aviation Preflight Indoctrination, a six-week training program for prospective Naval aviators. He was swimming in flight gear when his heart failed.
When rescue divers pulled him from the water moments later, he was unconscious, had no pulse and went without oxygen to his brain for 30 minutes, family members said.
He was immediately given CPR, then transferred to the Naval Hospital and, from there, to Sacred Heart.
It is unclear what caused the sudden heart failure.
"Everything happened very fast," Marine Corps spokesman 1st Lt. Brian Villiard said. "They were able to get him out very quickly and get him first aid."
The chain of events leading up to the accident is under investigation, Marine Corps officials said.
Officials at the Center for Naval Aviation Technical Training, which oversees survival training at the base, declined to comment on Monday due to that investigation.
The commanding officer of MATSG-21, Col. Joseph Richards, visited Wayland at the hospital and spoke with the family, according to the journal. He declined to comment to the media on Monday.
The last reported deaths at the survival school occurred in the late 1980s, when two Marines died during separate training incidents.
A Naval aviation reserve officer candidate collapsed in shallow water and died in 1989 during an abandon-ship drill at the base. Another sailor drowned in 1988 during rescue swimmer training.
The deaths prompted disciplinary action and changes in survival school procedures.
The Aviation Survival Department at Pensacola NAS has taught land and water survival techniques to more than 6,500 students since 2005, according to the department's website.
Villiard said accidents are uncommon but swim training has inherent risks.
"Anytime you're talking about waterborne training there are risks involved." he said. "They do a pretty good job at mitigating risk, but there's always the potential that something could happen."
In a post to the online journal Friday afternoon after Wayland was pronounced brain dead, the family thanked the many people who had prayed for him.
"I know for some of us, this isn't the miracle we were were praying for," read the note signed by the Wayland family. "But Patrick removed the burden of impossible decisions as his last gift to us."