Senior Airman Jason Plite Hometown

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Senior Airman Jason Plite

photo of senior airman jason plite

Hometown: Lansing, Michigan, U.S.

Age: 21 years old

Died: March 23, 2003 in Operation Enduring Freedom.

Unit: Air Force

senior airman jason thomas plite

Jason T. Plitephoto

PLITE — Senior Airman Jason T. Plite, of Delta Township, born April 13, 1981 in Grand Rapids, MI, died March 23, 2003 while on a rescue mission attempting to save two young children in Afghanistan. Jason attended Lansing Sexton High School and transferred to Grand Ledge High School, where he graduated. He was a Varsity Swimmer all four years of high school. Jason had several God-given talents, one of which was his love for art. He loved every medium of art including painting, ceramics, drawing, sketching and sculpting. He had several of his own works on public display in and around the community. Jason had an amazing ability to make friends with people of great character everywhere he went. He cared for them all greatly and always stayed in close contact. He served in the U.S. Air Force as a Senior Airman; part of a small group of elite pararescue men that were a family all of their own. He will be remembered as one who lived by their motto "That Others May Live." He is preceded in death by his grandparents, David and Pauline Schneider. Surviving are his mother Dawn and Charles Peterson; sisters, Alyssa and Shaynah Peterson; his father, Thomas and Geralyn Plite; siblings, Patrick and Michael Plite, Christopher Hug and Nicole Michaud; grandparents, Marv and Sheralyn Plite; the love of his life, Amy Emerine; and many loving aunts, uncles, cousins and incredible friends. Funeral Services will be Thursday, April 3, 2003 at 2 p.m. at South Baptist Church, 5250 Cornerstone Dr. (on Snow Road between Mt. Hope and St. Joseph Hwy.), with Rev. Michael O'Berski of West Lansing Church of Christ officiating. Interment will follow in Delta Center Cemetery with Military Honors provided by the Wright Patterson Air Force Base. A Memorial Mass will be held Friday at 7 p.m. at St. Patrick's Catholic Church, 4351 Parnell Ave., Parnell, MI. Instead of flowers the family lovingly requests memorials to the Jason Plite Memorial Fund, c/o Flagstar Bank, 914 Charlevoix, Suite 100, Grand Ledge, MI, 48837. This memorial fund will be used to help carry on Jason's legacy of love for the arts and swimming. The family is being served by the Palmer Bush Delta Chapel, 6020 W. Saginaw Hwy., Lansing, MI, 48917. Condolences to the family at

Published in Grand Rapids Press on April 3, 2003

Upon Jason's death March 23rd, 2003 we established the "Jason Plite Memorial Fund" in hopes

of being able to give a gift to the Swimming and Art Departments (two of Jason's passions)

of the Grand Ledge High School where he attended and graduated from in 1999.

The Fund did so incredibly well we felt it was imperative that we incorporate the Fund,

appoint a Board of Directors, and establish it as a charitable/non-profit organization and continue

to raise funds so that we can give out Grants and Scholarships to students in the Grand Ledge

Community pursuing further education in Art and Swimming!

We will continue to raise funds by holding an annual Fund Raising Dinner Event each April.

April 13, 1981 - March 23, 2003


Senior Airman Jason Plite was born April 13, 1981 in Grand Rapids Michigan. During his high school years, Jason was a " Jack of all-trades," as he was both a gifted artist and a powerful athlete. Whether it was painting murals or earning his black belt in karate, Jason was a disciplined and dedicated student. His leadership and motivation to excel were apparent early on when Jason captained his Varsity swim team, a sport he still holds records in today, the 200 Freestyle relay, won in 1997.Early physical conditioning would later aid him in helping others.

       After Graduating from Grand Ledge  High School in 1999, he enlisted in the United States Air Force. At first he sought to pursue a career as a firefighter, but then Jason learned of the Pararescue profession and never looked back. After graduating Basic Training with honors, Jason began his PJ training with the Air Force Indoctrination Course, A US Navy Special Forces  Combat Divers Course, and a Military Free Fall School. He was awarded the Charles D. King award for excellence in academic performance, and leadership. In addition, Jason also successfully completed  the Army Basic Airborne School, Air Force Survival School, Paramedic Upgrade Course, John F. Kennedy Warfare Center's Joint Special Operations Medical Training Course, and the Pararescue Recovery Apprentice Course. Jason Received his Maroon Beret in March 2002.

Jason received his first duty assignment to the 38th Rescue Squadron out of Moody AFB, Georgia. His performance as a worldwide recovery expert enabled him to perform rescue and recovery of distressed personnel from temperate, arctic, desert, mountainous, and open sea environments. He also performed as a medical evacuation rescue team member in direct support of NASA trans-oceanic abort landing sites providing the DOD with an emergency astronaut recovery capability.

   Jason was a vital contributor in his unit's wide ranging support of the 347th Rescue Wing and Air Force mission. Just the day prior to the crash, Jason had helped save 3 critically injured Afgani Nationals.

       Plites awards include the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award, The National Defense Service Medal, The Air Medal, and the Air Force Training Ribbon.

Jason is survived by his parents, Charlie & Dawn Peterson; Tom & Geralyn Plite; sisters: Alyssa, and Shaynah Peterson; brothers, Patrick and Michael Plite, and the Air Force Pararescue family

A Mothers Poem


Is it raining out? Just in front of her house.
It's raining out, even though the sun is still out.
She walks outside to see the sight,
He's left a message, her son Jason Plite.
He can't call her anymore, not by computer or phone,
But he's called her today, by this beautiful rainbow.
Hi Mom, I'm ok. I'm happy here in this place.
I'm looking down on your sad teary face.
Don't worry, I'm not alone and I'm not scared,
I'm worried about you, because I care.
You were the one, who was there for me,
Thru all the things, I could not see.
I know that you're proud; it's what you always say,
I'm proud of you too, and things will be ok.
I'll be with you forever, whatever you do,
It's my turn now; I'll be looking after you.
I feel your tears when you cry,
Don't think for a moment, that this is good-bye.
We are mother and son, and that's forever,
This family is ours and it can never be severed.
You're a strong one, and so am I,
I got it from you, that's our bonding tie.
Just always remember I'm in your heart,
Your in mine too, we'll never part.
I'll try and help you not be sadder,
I love you so much, that's all that matters.
You know how I've always wanted to fly?
For now I'll be working up here in the sky.
I might just be the toughest angel, I can't tell,
Being a PJ, they've trained me very well.
When ever you hear a helicopter, that's just me,
Going on god's mission, it's where I want to be.
So like before, I will continue to give,
That's our motto Mom, so
by:  Chrystal LaVallee

April 13 1981- March 23, 2003

jason\'s last gift

jason - dangle


pj grad, proud mommie!

Jason & Mom

disney dec., 2002 145

picture 002


In Memory of  Air Rescue Crew

"Komodo 11"

On March 23rd, 2003 a pair of HH-60's scrambled from Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan. The mission was  an urgent medevac  needed to save the lives of two injured Afghani children. For reasons presently unknown, one of the helicopters crashed and all of it's crew was killed. The downed chopper was using the call sign "Komodo 11."

Bob Holler sent the following email after the crash of Komodo 11. "The word is already out. It's in the news. A helicopter crashed in Afghanistan while trying to prosecute a mission. It was a rescue helicopter and two of the deceased are from my unit. Although I can't tell details or names, I can tell you they will be missed. Let's not forget the "other" war that's still going on in Afghanistan. A poem I wrote in the last couple of hours..."

I sit here and type this with tears in my eyes,
the world is not right now, I just lost two guys.

Flying to rescue someone they'd save,
their helo just crashed, an H-60 PAVE.

The helo they flew in crashed to the ground,
leaving only "survivors", their loved ones, around.

One was experienced, the other still new,
they died in the service of both me and you.

They both knew the risks, we accept them like faith,
but once in awhile, death rears like a wraith.

Of one thing I'm certain, they died not in vain,
if it were two others, they'd both fly again.

And fly again, the rest of us will,
if for no other reason then to keep our minds still.

To get back on that horse and ride it away,
to reinforce why we wear the maroon beret.

We lost two brothers and though we are sad,
we'll celebrate their lives, the lives they had.

Lives by the motto, lives we will give,
These Things We Do, That Others May Live.


From the Chicago Tribune
Medical copter crashes; 6 dead
March 24,2003

BAGRAM, AFGHANISTAN -- A U.S. Air Force helicopter from the 41st Rescue Squadron at Moody Air Force Base in Georgia crashed Sunday in southeastern Afghanistan, killing all six people on board.

The HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter was on a medical evacuation mission when it crashed about 18 miles north of Ghazni.

Enemy fire did not bring down the copter but the cause was under investigation, said a spokesman at Bagram Air Base. The weather across Afghanistan was poor at the time and other flights were grounded.

A Moody base spokeswoman said the names of the dead were being withheld until their families could be notified.

Military officials said the medical emergency and the helicopter flight were not connected to Operation Valiant Strike in southeastern Afghanistan, a mission designed to uproot Al Qaeda and Taliban fighters in the area.

High-res version of this photo

A somber moment

03/25/03 - OPERATION ENDURING FREEDOM -- Army Chaplain (Col.) Richard Rogers leads a prayer March 25 for six airmen killed when their HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter crashed near Ghazni, Afghanistan, on March 23. The helicopter crew was on its way to pick up two Afghan children for treatment in U.S. medical facilities at Bagram Air Base. The remains were being flown to Dover Air Force Base, Del. (U.S. Army photo by Pvt. Terri Rorke)


Crash victims identified

03/25/03 - MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. (AFPN) -- Air Force officials have identified the airmen killed in the HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter crash in Afghanistan on March 23.

The airmen were deployed from here supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. Killed in the crash were:

        1st Lt. Tamara Archuleta, co-pilot.

        Staff Sgt. Jason Hicks, flight engineer.

        Master Sgt. Michael Maltz, pararescueman.

        Senior Airman Jason Plite, pararescueman.

        Lt. Col. John Stein, aircraft commander.

        Staff Sgt. John Teal, flight engineer.

Archuleta, Hicks, Stein and Teal were assigned to the 41st Rescue Squadron. Maltz and Plite were assigned to the 38th RQS.

"The Air Force is a close-knit family and the loss of one of our own affects us all," said Brig. Gen. John H. Folkerts, 347th Rescue Wing commander. "We wish to express our deepest condolences to family members of these brave airmen and want them to know that we will not forget the valuable contributions they made to this country and the impact they made on the Air Force."

A memorial service will be held here March 27. The cause of the accident is under investigation.


A Memorial service was held for the crew of "Komodo 11"  at Moody AFB, GA on March 27, 2003.The crew of the downed rescue helicopter consisted of personnel assigned to the 41st RQS and the 38th  RQS. If you click the blue hyperlinked names, you will be moved to a page that provides information about that individual and his life.

41 RQS crewmembers were:



Lt Col John Stein - Pilot


1Lt Tamara Archuleta - Copilot


SSgt Jason Hicks - Flight Engineer


SSgt John Teal - Flight Engineer


38 RQS crewmembers were: 



MSgt Mike Maltz - Pararescueman


SrA Jason Plite

Georgia airbase honors victims of Afghan crash
By ELLIOTT MINOR, Associated Press
(Published March 27‚ 2003)

MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. (AP) - About 1,200 mourners packed a hangar at this base Thursday to honor six members of an Air Force rescue team who died in Afghanistan during a nighttime mercy mission.

"We grieve the loss of some of our family," said Brig. Gen. John Folkerts, commander of Moody Air Force Base in south-central Georgia. "We'll honor them throughout history for their deeds, but today we say, 'We miss you.'"

Photos of the lost airmen stood on a table beneath a large U.S. flag. The helicopter crew was represented by four flight helmets, and the pararescue specialists who were with them by two maroon berets.

The six were flying in a HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter that crashed Sunday night in the foothills about 20 miles north of the town of Ghazni in eastern Afghanistan.

Officials said they don't believe the crash was the result of enemy action. The crew was attempting to refuel from an HC-130 airplane and may have run into bad weather.

The dead were 1st Lt. Tamara Archuleta, 23, of Los Lunas, N.M.; Staff Sgt. Jason Hicks, 25, of Jefferson, S.C.; Master Sgt. Michael Maltz, 42, of St. Petersburg, Fla.; Senior Airman Jason Plite, 21, of Lansing, Mich.; Lt. Col. John Stein, 39, of Bardolph, Ill.; and Staff Sgt. John Teal, 29, of Dallas.

They were members of the 347th Operations Group, which specializes in rescuing downed pilots behind enemy lines. But on Sunday they were sent out to transport two children with head injuries to a hospital.

Archuleta's uncle, Michael Long, said he's proud of his niece and the others.

"They were everything that is right and just about America," he said. "Theirs was a mission of peace at a time of war. ... Members of this crew were true heroes."


Ceremony honors Moody's fallen heroes

By Rip Prine

MOODY AIR FORCE BASE -- There was standing room only for a memorial service at Moody Air Force Base Thursday as airmen paid tribute to six heroes who died Sunday in Afghanistan.

Members of the 41st and 38th Rescue Squadrons comforted each other as they looked at photographs of their fallen comrades, whose HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter crashed while en route to rescue two injured Afghan children. Their actions symbolized the combat search and rescue motto: "That Others May Live."

"The reason we are here this afternoon is to honor the crew of Komodo 11," said Brig Gen. John Folkerts, commander, 347th Rescue Wing. The crew members were Lt. Col. John Stein, Capt. (Select) Tamara Archuleta, Master Sgt. Michael Maltz, Staff Sgt. John Teal, Staff Sgt. Jason Hicks and Senior Airman Jason Plite.

"All of us at Moody Air Force Base are deeply grateful for your presence here today as we grieve the loss of part of our family," Folkerts said. "We'll honor them throughout history for their deeds, but today we gather as a community to say we miss you."

It was a time for those gathered to heal, said Col. Tom Trask, commander, 347th Operations Group. "It will be our job to take up the slack and continue to carry on the combat rescue mission and the combat rescue," Trask said. "They were us, and now part of us is gone."

"Their mission was to attempt to rescue two small children from Afghanistan -- two children that represent the future of a country that we freed from tyranny," Trask said. "There is no one that can argue that this was a just and worthwhile mission."

Individuals who knew the Komodo 11 crew gave personal accounts of their friends.

First Lt. Todd Thorpe spoke of his relationship with Stein, whom he referred to as his mentor. "When I think of Lt. Col. Stein, I think of the No. 1 principal of leadership," Thorpe said. "He was the epitome of technical and tactical expert."

Michael Long, Archuleta's uncle, and former pararescueman, was stationed at the PJ school, Kirkland AFB, N.M., when his niece was born, he said. He had the fortune to watch her grow, before the Air Force took him away. He remembered her successes and her mastery of karate skills that were taught by her father. He remembered her determination to become an Air Force officer and pilot. "To me, she's still the little cousin my daughter used to play with," Long said.

Senior Master Sgt. William Sine, 38th RQS, spoke on behalf of Maltz, whom he had known for 17 years. He described Maltz as an awesome pararescueman who lived and breathed the job. As an instructor, Maltz shaped and molded numerous PJs, Sine said..

Staff Sgt. David Lacey, 41st RQS remembered Teal, whom he said his close friends referred to as Mike rather than John. "Mike loved flying and the rescue mission," Lacey said. He mentioned a mission in Afghanistan in which he and Teal volunteered to fly extra time to rescue a badly wounded soldier on the side of a mountain at about 9,000 feet.

Staff Sgt. William Hale described his friend Hicks playing a football game like he was in the Super Bowl, Hale said. "I never met anybody like Jason before," Hale said. "He was always full of life. He had that typical goofy look on his face, and if you looked at him you couldn't help but smile. I'll never forget him. He died doing what he loved."

Staff Sgt. (Select) Sean Cunningham, 38th RQS, described 21-year-old Plite as a man who loved his job and loved being a PJ. "He was strong, he was energetic, enthusiastic ... ," Cunningham said. "He wanted to learn everything, he wanted to know everything, he wanted to be the best PJ he could be."

Today, crews like Komodo 11 are conducting combat search and rescue missions in Afghanistan and other areas of the world. They have been responsible for saving 57 people ranging from U.S. and Allied military forces to Afghan civilians since their arrival in Afghanistan about 16 months ago, Trask said.



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