Charles Rodd told his friend Mary Anne Bradshaw on Sept. 14 that he was ready any time to fly on her husband Theodore Bradshaw’s new six-seat Cessna 340. They decided to fly the small plane to Bradshaw’s nephew’s wedding in Virginia.
On Friday evening — just four weeks after the Facebook posting that included a photo of the shiny white airplane — the bodies of Rodd, 64, and his wife, Diane Dotson Rodd, 58, of Boynton Beach, and the Bradshaws were found in the wreckage of the plane, which went down Thursday in a remote area near the wedding site.
“He fought in Vietnam and received two Purple Hearts. He was a very proud American and was proud of his country,” Rodd’s ex-wife, Marie Rodd, of Dania, said Saturday. “He will be missed. My whole family loved him dearly — cousins, aunts and uncles.”
Virginia state police said Theodore Bradshaw, 61, of Cooper City, who had more than 30 years of flying experience, was piloting the plane. The two couples left Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport just before 7:45 a.m. Thursday with the intention of landing around noon at Hampton Roads Executive Airport in Chesapeake, west of Virginia Beach.
The plane’s last radar contact by the air traffic control tower in Norfolk, Va., was shortly after noon Thursday with a location over the Great Dismal Swamp, a wildlife area straddling the Virginia-North Carolina border. Its northern boundary is immediately south of the airport across U.S. 13.
Marie Rodd, 60, said Saturday that Charles Rodd was born with the last name of Rodriguez in Cuba in 1948. She met him when she was 16 at his welcome home party in New York City after he returned from serving in the Army in Vietnam. They were married for 27 years. They divorced more than 10 years ago.
After they were divorced, their son, Jason, 40, changed his name from Rodd to Rodriguez. They also have a 15-year-old grandson, Justin Rodriguez.
“He had lung cancer a couple of years ago and survived that,” Rodd said of her ex-husband, whom she said was retired from Waste Management in Broward County. “It is ironic that this happens. He was a wonderful father, a wonderful provider.”
Rodd said that Diane Rodd’s daughter, Jennifer Morla, flew from Hollywood to Virginia on Friday after the plane was reported missing.
“Diane was a very good woman and loved him very much,” Rodd said. They married on New Year’s Eve, 2010.
Authorities on Saturday used a bulldozer to clear a path to the crash site, Virginia State Police spokeswoman Corinne Geller said. Crews will try to remove the plane and the four bodies today.
The state medical examiner and federal investigators have been notified and the cause of the crash remains under investigation.
Officials at the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board were not available to comment Saturday because they were furloughed due to the government shutdown.
Post staff researcher Michelle Quigley contributed to this story.