By Emily Baker
Killeen Daily Herald
God needed a good Apache pilot in heaven.
So he picked Chief Warrant Officer-4 Richard Matt Salter to fly above the clouds.
Thats 6-year-old Danielle Salters understanding of what happened to her daddy the day after Christmas.
Salter, 44, and Chief Warrant Officer Isaias E. Santos, 28, were killed Dec. 26 near Baghdad, Iraq, when their AH-64 Apache helicopter crashed following a midair collision with another helicopter. Both were assigned to the 1st Battalion, 4th Aviation Regiment, Combat Aviation Brigade, 4th Infantry Division.
When Danielle is sad, her mother, Janet, encourages her to remember the funny things Salter did.
He always had a joke or a crazy story about life in the Army to share.
And if you were his friend, hed pretend to pick your nose, Janet Salter said, laughing and pointing to her nostril. Hed put his finger right up here and pretend to pick your nose.
It wont be as easy to help their 8-month-old son remember his dad. Janet Salter has plenty of photographs to share with little Lane to make sure he knows his dad was a hero and died doing what he loved, she said.
Although Lane might be too young to remember someday, Salter was a good dad, his widow said. He always treated his four children Christina, 18; Jarrett, 15; and Danielle and Lane as adults rather than children and loved spending time with them, Janet Salter said.
He also was a loving husband and a friend, she said.
She remembers the first time she saw him. He was wearing a flight suit and joked with her about whether she had a security clearance to get in an Apache simulator. She did, and the couple had their first date three days later. Theyve been married for seven and a half years.
Salter returned from his first deployment to Iraq in March 2004. A few months later, construction began on the Salters home. A single gold star on a white background framed in red now hangs in a front window of the white stone house just south of Killeen.
Salter loved being outdoors and enjoyed hunting, fishing and golf. Perhaps a secret to many, he enjoyed cooking.
Watch, hell haunt me forever now that I told that he liked to cook, Janet Salter said. He was a good cook, and he loved to barbecue. He loved throwing things in a pot and seeing how it would turn out.
Regardless of what he was doing, Salter treated everyone as if they were family, Janet Salter said.
Im proud to have him as a son-in-law, Paulette Meyers said. He made my daughter happy.
Salter is scheduled to be buried at 5 p.m. today at the Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery in Killeen.
Contact Emily Baker at email@example.com