FORT MYERS, Fla. -- By air and with Navy warships on the water, the search continues for 12 Marines that have been missing for 4 days after a helicopter crash off Hawaii. Among them is Fort Myers' own 22-year old Thomas J. Jardas.
Four in Your Corner's Malcolm Johnson spoke with several of Jardas's friends and Cypress Lake High School classmates by phone.
"He was probably the best Marine and best friend that anybody could ask for," said classmate Cornelius Egan.
"He was very charismatic, very funny, always had something to joke about. There was never a day that went by where there wasn't a smile on his face. He'd come up to you running up out of nowhere screaming all types of stuff to make you laugh," said another classmate, Amanda Thompson.
The news hit his best friend, Rob Maley, pretty hard. "By the end of the day, confirmation started to get around that Tommy was on one of the helicopters and it was just incredibly distressing."
Distressing news for the friends of Jardas, who tell me he's the kind of companion you can rely on no matter what you're going through. "Rough family issues and financial issues and he's helped me out no questions asked. Perfect friend. I cant ask for anyone else better to have my back in those kind of situations," said Maley.
Rescuers still searching the area where a civilian told the coast guard they saw the helicopter disappear, then a fireball. Jardas's hometown friends are continuing to keep hope alive. "I'm constantly clinging on to hope that he's still going to be there, somewhere, even if its on an island," said Egan.