Dan Balcom died May 9 off the coast of Africa and was buried May 17.

Dan BalcomFuneral services for Daniel Ray Balcom, 55, of Fayetteville, Tenn., were conducted at 2 p.m., Saturday, May 17, at Higgins Funeral Home, in Fayetteville, with David Sain officiating. Burial followed in Pleasant Grove Cemetery.

He was buried with military honors and a 15-gun salute. Dan died May 9 in Democratic Republic of Congo as he was attempting to save his helicopter from a burning oil tanker and flew it to the new oil tanker some distance away.

In his attempt to land, his helicopter crashed, and he apparently died on impact.

He and his copter went into the ocean, but his body was retrieved by divers; the copter sank to the bottom of the ocean.

An Apr. 15 article in The Christian Chronicle reported that Dan had studied the Bible with more than 30 Congolese workers while stationed on an oil tanker off the coast of Congo.

He had provided many Bibles in the French language, along with Bible study material provided by Heritage Christian University, Florence, Ala.

Dan was born in Biloxi, Miss., Dec. 28, 1952, the son of Charles Calvin and Ruth Chester Balcom of Hartselle, Ala.

He was a retired pilot instructor with the U.S. Army, a helicopter pilot for PHI and a member of the West Fayetteville church.

Survivors, in addition to his parents, include his wife Jean Smith Balcom of Fayetteville, son Damann John Balcom and wife Stephanie of Fayetteville, daughter Danell Rayne Kalagian and husband Paul of Calera, Ala, five grandchildren, a brother Timothy Balcom of Decatur, Ala, as well as a host of other family members and friends.

He was preceded in death by his sister Kerrie Sue (Balcom) Martin in 2001.

Visitation with the family was on Friday evening, May 16, at Higgins Funeral Home.

In lieu of flowers, the family requested that donations be made to the African Mission Fund, in Memory of Daniel Ray Balcom, c/o West Fayetteville Church of Christ, P.O. Box 456, Fayetteville, TN 37334.