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ELKHART, IND. — A northern Indiana soldier who was among six U.S. service members killed after a helicopter crashed in southern Afghanistan was on his third deployment overseas, his mother said.
Army Staff Sgt. Jesse Lee Williams, 30, of Elkhart, was aboard a Black Hawk transport helicopter with five other soldiers at the time of the crash Tuesday, Debbie Bussard Passerallo said. All six soldiers died in the crash.
The 2003 Elkhart Central High School graduate joined the military to work on computers and left on Father’s Day to go to Germany, his mother told The Elkhart Truth. From there, he was deployed to Afghanistan.
“He was big and strong,” Passerallo told the newspaper. “He didn’t let things get him down. When he was a friend, he was a friend forever.”
He was promoted to staff sergeant about two weeks ago, she said.
“He loved it,” said Amanda Caldwell, the mother of Williams’ 6-year-old daughter, Madison. “He didn’t want to do anything else.”
Passerallo and Caldwell said Williams enjoyed spending time with his daughter.
“They would go to the beach; they would go to the zoo; he would take her to the bounce houses; and they would go out to the park,” Passerallo said. “He was very active with her.”
Two U.S. defense officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, told The Associated Press that one person on board the Black Hawk UH-60 was injured and survived.
A statement issued by the NATO international military coalition said the crash was under investigation and that there was no insurgent activity in the area at the time of the crash.