March 27, 2003
Valdosta-- A memorial service was held at Moody Air Force Base near Valdosta, for six people killed in a chopper crash in Afghanistan. The crew members were part of the 41st Rescue Squadron at Moody.
Their HH-60-G Pave Hawk rescue helicopter crashed Sunday while on a mercy mission to rescue injured children in the Afghan foothills.
A crowd of over one thousand gathered to remember the crew of Komodo-Eleven. It was a somber moment as family, friends, and colleagues gathered at Moody Air Force Base to honor six fallen heroes. “Every member on that flight made a difference to me, the unit, and every life they saved,” said Mike Teal’s friend, David Lacey. “I’m going to miss you, Mike. I’m going to miss you all.”
Each Airman has his or her own special story. Master Sergeant Michael Maltz was to marry his fiancé when he returned from this deployment.
Senior Airmen Jason Plite, the youngest of the crew, was only twenty-one and described as the most likeable person one could know.
Captain-Select Tamara Archuleta's uncle remembers his niece as an energetic over-achiever. “Tammy always set high goals for herself, and unlike some of the other members of the family, she seemed able to meet them through perseverance and hard work.”
Several of the victims, like Lt. Colonel John Stein left behind children and a spouse. His colleagues describe him as a motivated leader, always involved in the toughest missions. “He’ll do whatever it takes to go out and bring our people home,” said Dino Thanos of the 41 st Rescue Squadron. “And if it’s not our people, then anyone who’s in danger, or injured, scared, to bring them home to safety.”
And while its hard to make sense of this tragedy right now, the crew knew the dangers of the mission and other airmen say they would do the same. “They were the embodiment of honor and courage, integrity and dedication, and I’m sure they wouldn’t take any of it back, or regret it, or rewind the tape of life if they could,” Thanos said.
Throughout the emotional ceremony, one thought stayed constant - the crew died living out the squadron's motto - These Things We Do, That Others May Live.
The Airmen were part of a team that has rescued 57 US troops and Afghani civilians.
updated at 6:15PM by email@example.com
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