LANSING, MI, USA U.S. Air Force SRA, 38TH RESCUE SQUADRON, MOODY AFB, GA NEAR GHAZNI, AFGHANISTAN 03/23/2003
Jason Plite, a senior airman in the Air Force, was aboard an HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter on its way to rescue two injured Afghan children when it went down late Sunday, killing all six crew members.
Jason was born on April 13 1981 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. During his high school years Jason was already a “Jack of all Trades”, as he was both a gifted artist and 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 for a 200 Freestyle Relay in 1997. This early physical conditioning would later aid him in helping others.
Although Jason was convinced by a recruiter to join the Marine Corps, his friends suggested he check out the Air Force and its opportunities. After graduating from Grand Ledge High school in 1999 he enlisted in the USAF. Originally enlisting to pursue a career as a firefighter, Jason learned of the Pararescue profession and never looked back. It was Jason’s helpful nature that led him to want to be a firefighter, and that made the maroon beret fit all the more better.
After graduating basic training with honors, Jason would begin his long arduous journey towards becoming a PJ. His training included the Air Force Pararescue Indoctrination Course, US Army Special Forces Combat Divers Course, Military Freefall School, 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. He successfully completed the most grueling training pipeline in the US Military earning the coveted maroon beret and PJ flash in March 2002. Upon graduating from the Pararescue Recovery Apprentice Course with the Charles D. King award for academic excellence, Jason received his first duty assignment to the 38th Rescue Squadron.
Jason was assigned as a pararescue team member on Hawk Flight. As such, he flew on numerous rotary aircraft in hostile and austere environments two include two OEF deployments. 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 DOD with an emergency astronaut recovery capability. He maintained operational qualifications in static line, freefall parachuting, SCUBA, Rigging Alternate Method Zodiac (RAMZ), freefall swimmer deployment, fast rope, rope ladder, helicopter rappel/hoist operations, mountain rescue, and combat medicine.
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 three critically injured Afghani Nationals. He was a beloved son, cherished friend, and professional PJ. He is survived by his mother, Dawn Renee Peterson, his father, Tom E. Plite, and the Pararescue family.
Senior Airman Plites’s awards include the AF Outstanding Unit Award, the National Defense Service Medal, the Air Medal, and the Air Force Training Ribbon.