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Missing Slide Victim's Brothers: Meeting Other Families Was Powerful, Meeting Obama Was 'Bonus'

Lindsey Wasson
AP Photo, Pool
President Barack Obama, right, hugs Oso Fire Chief Willy Harper after making his remarks to the media and an audience of first responders inside the Oso Fire Department after surveying the damage and response efforts on Tuesday, April 22, 2014.

For two men still waiting word on their brother missing since the March 22 mudslide, Tuesday's group meeting with President Barack Obama provided a powerful opportunity to connect with other victims, family members and first responders.

Frank and John Hadaway's brother, 53-year-old Steven Hadaway of Darrington, is one of two people still missing in the wake of the mudslide that has claimed 41 lives.

The Hadaways say there were among some 90 victims, family members and first responders who met with the president at the Oso Community Chapel before he addressed a larger group at the firehouse. Still, John Hadaway says the president took his time with everyone.

“It’s not like he came up and gave you a guy hug and a pat on the back, and left,” he said. “How I took it was: ‘I’m sorry, but what else can you say?’”

They didn’t get to mention that Steven Hadaway is a Marine, but they did tell the president about their missing brother’s wife and two kids.

“He says, ‘I can’t even imagine losing Michelle,’” said Frank Hadaway of the president’s response. “So, you know, we felt him.”

In addition to meeting with the president, John Hadaway says meeting with other families and first responders proved to be a humbling experience.

“I’m no hero, Frank’s no hero. But you’ve got a couple people out there that just busted their butt day after day. Them are the heroes. The guys that are out there that are digging through that muck on a daily basis — them are the heroes. We’re just two people that miss the hell out of their brother. That’s it,” he said.

The brothers say the families now share a bond.

“Meeting the president was a bonus,” said John Hadaway.

Kyle Stokes covers the issues facing kids and the policies impacting Washington's schools for KPLU.