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The Big Dog - Elijah Combest

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Skydive New Mexico has lost our strongest, most talented jumper. Elijah passed quietly in his sleep last Thursday night/Friday morning. In his short 26 years he lived more than most.

Elijah held all the Instructor ratings and was the workhorse of of SDNM's instructional staff. He loved every kind of skydiving, and was always trying to get one more load up so that he could fly his wing suit, swoop his Katana, or turn a few points.

Elijah was a second generation skydiver. His father Danny learned to jump in the Marine Corps way back in the day, and has been an active skydiver ever since. Elijah and his brother Isaiah spent many childhood afternoons roaming the Perris DZ while Danny jumped.

There will be a memorial service held at our student LZ this Friday at 7:00 PM. Please send me a PM for details.

BSBD

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oh my goodness, i'm shocked. Any word on what happened?

I watched Elijah go from AFF student to that typical 100-jump wonder who thinks they are invincible (i remember a few times thinking "man, that kid's gonna hurt himself someday soon!") to a mature, competent skydiver who gave his all for Skydive New Mexico.

I was amazed and proud when i heard he was getting all his ratings.

And even when he was new, i could see his love for the sport, and his love for all aspects of it. freefly, rw, camera, wingsuit, swooping, you name it, he loved it.

My prayers are with Danny, Isaiah, and all of the SDNM family.
Never meddle in the affairs of dragons, for you are crunchy and taste good with ketchup!

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Elijah will certainly be missed. By far one of the most genuine people I have ever had the pleasure of befriending. I will always remember him for that big goofy grin hiding behind his equally big Elijah beard (always a sight to behold in freefall). I have much to thank Elijah for both as a instructor/mentor and as a friend, truly one of the good ones.
Less talking, more flying.

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My most memorable skydive to date was with Elijah.

Naked night jump. Through hail, and rain.

Attached photos: Elijah and I after the naked night jump, and a shot I snapped of him from our hopeful (and ultimate failure) "SkyBear" jumps

I am really, really going to miss you Elijah.
It's all fun and until someone loses an eye... then it's just a game to find the eye

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I'm devastated at the sudden passing of Elijah. My thoughts and prayers are with his two young daughters, girlfriend, Danny and the rest of his family.
There are many fond memories and adventures shared. Elijah helped take a bunch of British skydivers on a side trip to the Grand Canyon during a holiday boogie at Eloy a couple years ago. It was the only time I can remember a twin otter full of skydivers and nobody jumped because it was a tourist flight over the Canyon. The void left behind by his passing can be compared to the Grand Canyon. He will truly be missed and fondly remembered. Blue Skies my friend.

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I was truly devastated when I heard that Elijah had passed. I enjoyed flying with him every weekend. My first paid tandem video, first wing suit flock and first skyball/skybear jump was with him. Elijah will truly be missed.

With his passing the Annual Elijah Combest Memorial 3-Way scrambles will be held the weekend before Labor day each year.

BSBD Brother

-Bailey FR#2



"Pilots without Maintainers are just pedestrians with cool jackets and sunglasses"

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Elijah will be remembered for a lot of things by a lot of people. One of my favorite memories is when I struggling to get my "A" license, he jumped with me 5 times in one day. He didn't give me anything, he made me work for it. Right after I got my "A" license, I talked my wife into making her first jump - a tandem. I was on the load with her. Elijah flew camera on that jump, and didn't charge us anything. Little did I know then that my log book would have a lot of jumps with Elijah jumping with me. And I still smile about the naked night jump. I was on that load too.
Fly free my friend, I'll miss you.

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On Friday August 29th we flew a "missing man" formation for Elijah. 2 Cessna 182s took to the sunset skies over our student DZ. At 4k AGL Elijah's father Danny opened the door of the lead plane and poured some of Elijah's ashes into the slipstream and then Danny exited followed by Lee Norris and Elijah's AFF partner Ken Mascarenas. Next, Krishan, Kyle, me, and Steven Stoffan exited from the follow plane.

After we landed we held a memorial service complete with remembrances of Elijah, a slideshow. a moving memorial video by FR#2, a bonfire, some fireworks, and plenty of beer. Later, there was even some naked fire jumping...

Here's the eulogy.

Let us pray.

First, is the east, the air, and second is south, which is fire. Next is west, to the Pacific, and to water. The last is north, earth, the earth to which our bodies will return. Lord God, ruler of these elements, be with us tonight as we remember our brother, son, and grandson Elijah. Amen.

Tonight we have come together as a community of family and friends to share our love and remembrances of Elijah. This is a night for sadness, but it’s also a night for celebration. A celebration of Elijah, and a celebration of life itself. I’m going to talk for a few minutes about Elijah’s life, and then I’d like to invite anyone that has thoughts, stories, and tall tales to tell about Elijah, to come up and share them with the group.

Born on November 30th, 1981, Elijah was only 26 years old when he died, but in the short time he was here with us, he lived more passionately, more fully, more completely than most of the rest of us could if we lived to be 100.

Elijah grew up in California, and spent many childhood afternoons running around the dropzone in Perris, California with his younger brother Isaiah, while their father Danny was up skydiving. At 18 Elijah joined the Navy and served his country for 2 years.

After completing his military service he returned to New Mexico to be near his family. It was at this point in his life that he followed his father’s footsteps right out the open door of an airplane and started skydiving. From his first jump he was naturally talented and almost completely fearless. Elijah quickly evolved into an advanced expert jumper. By the end of his life he had made over 1000 skydives and he held most of the sport’s highest ratings, including Freefall and Tandem Instructor. Elijah wasn’t just a great instructor, he embraced all types of skydiving; he learned new things quickly and was good at everything he tried.

To say that Elijah loved to fly is a gross understatement. He didn’t just love to fly, he lived to fly. In the fast and unforgiving world of skydiving Elijah found focus and calm. He was truly at home in the sky. At the end of every skydiving day, when everyone else was too tired to pack their parachutes for one more jump, Elijah would somehow use his charisma and enthusiasm to persuade us to make one more jump anyway. If he couldn’t get enough us together to fill a bigger plane, he’d get one of his good friends Lee or Patrick to take him up in their smaller planes, and he’d jump by himself.

Many of us here have shared the air with Elijah, some of us are Elijah’s former students, others in this group are his fellow Instructors. Anyone that ever jumped with Elijah will never forget his huge grin in freefall. Even when his beard was flying up in his face at 120 mph, you could still catch an occasional glimpse of that great big smile.

Elijah was truly blessed with his love of flying. It gave his life tremendous meaning and focus. It also gave him a strong sense of continuity and family since his father is a skydiver and he spent all his skydiving days with his “Pops” and best friend Danny, right here at Skydive New Mexico.

As much as he was a flying man, Elijah was also a family man. In family, Elijah was again extremely blessed. The Combests are a both a small, tight knit group and a huge extended family. This family looks out for each other, and they are also incredibly warm, generous and welcoming. Elijah was a very lucky man to be so close to his father Danny, his brother Isaiah, and his grandmother Fances. He is also survived by his mother Lori and grandmother Joy on the other side of his family. Our hearts go out to Lori, because no mother should ever have to lose a son, especially a son whose life had barely begun. Elijah left us with two more grieving mothers; Hailey’s mother, Sasha, and Kendal’s mom, Yadira. Our prayers go out to these young mothers who now face the challenge of raising their girls without a father. Any description of Elijah’s family has got to include his loving girlfriend Marissa. Marissa, Elijah was a lucky man to have you in his life. Finally, and most importantly Elijah the family man also left us with two beautiful daughters; Hailey and Kendal.

Hailey and Kendal, your father was an exceptional man. It is our job, as members of this community to not let Elijah’s memory die. We are responsible for telling these girls about their father as they grow older and are more able to understand and learn from the example he set in his life.

It’s senseless to distill a man’s life down to some words on paper and a few minutes of talk. What I’ve given here is just the simplest outline of a life that was, in every way, so much larger than life. I hope that some of you will come up when I’m done and add some detail to this bare outline of Elijah’s life.

Life is a test. A test of love, of loyalty, a test of wisdom, a test of bravery and strength. A test of our generosity and patience, and a test of our faith. Elijah passed life’s tests. He just worked through the program faster than the rest of us; just like he always did.

In the end, the measure of one’s life isn’t how a man sees himself, or what a man possessed, or even what a man accomplished in his life. In the end, it’s not so much about your own life, but the lives you touched.

All of us are here because Elijah touched us in so many ways. As I look around this gathering of people that loved Elijah as a brother, I know that Elijah’s life was a life very well lived.

It’s OK to be sad that he’s gone, but we should also celebrate tonight and be grateful and joyful for the time that we had with our departed brother, son, and grandson.

Life is full of meaning and very, very short.

Let us pray.

Our Father, who art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy Name.
Thy kingdom come.
Thy will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
As we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil.
[For thine is the kingdom,
and the power, and the glory,
for ever and ever. Amen.

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