PERHAM, Minn. — On a bitterly cold morning Monday, Dec. 16, Perham came out to say farewell to Chief Warrant Officer 2 Charles P. Nord.

Nord, 30, of Perham, was one of three soldiers killed in a Minnesota National Guard helicopter crash shortly after takeoff south of St. Cloud on Dec. 5. His funeral was at Perham High School, to accommodate a large crowd. All school classes were canceled, with flags flying at half-staff through the day.

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz was in attendance as well as Nord’s National Guard unit Company C 211 General Support Aviation Battalion - Northstar Dustoff, local servicemen and women, Nord’s family and friends, and members of the community. They gathered on the hardwood floor and bleachers of the Perham gym, to pay their respects to his memory.

During the service, Nord was eulogized as a good-natured prankster and loyal friend. First Lt. Aaron M. Johnson recalled being awakened by Nord throwing cheese at him, saying it was time for breakfast, or by having a small speaker play the sound of mewing cats.

Charles P. Nord
Charles P. Nord

The flag that he loved and served under, the one that had been draped over his casket, was folded and presented to his wife, Kaley Nord, of Perham. With her was the couple's 2-year-old daughter, Lydia, and their expected son, Jack Charles. The family had lived in Detroit Lakes, Vergas and Perham at various times.

Nord had returned in May from a roughly year-long deployment in the Middle East. He had recently started flying a crop-spraying helicopter, something he told family and friends was a dream job. He also built a new home for his wife, daughter and soon-to-be-born son.

“You prepare for it mentally and emotionally when they are deployed and there's that breath of fresh air when they come home,” said Tony Krogh with the North Dakota Patriot Guard, a group that supports soldiers and their families at funerals. ”You don’t expect it to happen here.”

A GoFundMe site created to support Nord’s family had raised more than $53,000 by Monday night, more than half of its goal of $100,000. Donors can contribute on this page.

After the funeral service, Nord was given full military honors outside of the school by the Minnesota Army National Guard Honor Guard. He was saluted by his fellow servicemen and women, as two Black Hawk Helicopters flew overhead in his honor.

Nord was buried privately in the Vergas City Cemetery after the funeral services.

He was the last of the three guardsmen to be laid to rest: Services for Sgt. Kort M. Plantenberg, 28, were Thursday in Collegeville in Stearns County; and services for Warrant Officer James A. Rogers Jr., 28, were Saturday in Howard Lake.

Matt Henson contributed to this report.