Jason was born on April 13 1981 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. During his high school years Jason was already a ďJack of all TradesĒ, 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 where 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 Jasonís 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 Centerís 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 unitís 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 Plitesís awards include the AF Outstanding Unit Award, the National Defense Service Medal, the Air Medal, and the Air Force Training Ribbon.
Local soldier dies in Afghanistan
21-year-old from Delta Twp. killed in helicopter crash
By Christine MacDonald
Lansing State Journal
|Killed in action:
Jason Plite of Delta Township, a senior airman in the U.S. Air Force, died
Sunday when the helicopter he was in crashed in Afghanistan. All six crew
members were killed in the crash.
Killed in duty
∑ Name: Jason Plite
∑ Age: 21
∑ Hometown: Delta Township
∑ Job: Senior Airman, U.S. Air Force
∑ Unit: 41st Rescue Squadron, Moody Air Force Base in Valdosta, Ga.
∑ Background: 1999 graduate of Grand Ledge High School
Friends say a 21-year-old Delta Township man had a "servant's heart" and was doing what he loved when he died in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan.
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.
"He was there to pick up the people who are broken," said Plite's neighbor, Michael O'Berski. "He paid the ultimate price for it."
The crew was within a couple weeks of completing its tour of duty and returning to Moody Air Force Base in Valdosta, Ga. Officials said the crash was not believed to be the result of enemy action.
Friends say Plite, a 1999 Grand Ledge High graduate, excelled at his grueling training - similar to the Navy SEALs' - but was just as tickled when he helped deliver a baby for the first time.
And he relished his role as big brother to 10- and 12-year-old sisters, attending their plays and other functions.
"He had a soft heart and was tough outside," said his best friend, 22-year-old Dan O'Berski. "You wouldn't have even known he was in a special, elite group."
The O'Berskis met Plite about seven years ago when his family moved into their neighborhood near Mt. Hope Highway and Canal Road. Plite often snuck over for ice cream.
"He had the key to our hearts and the key to our house," said Michael O'Berski, Dan's dad.
Plite stayed in steady contact with his family and his girlfriend through e-mails and phone calls from Afghanistan. Last week he e-mailed another good friend, Andy George, that he was bored.
"I said, 'Good, stay that way,' " said George, 22. "I know he wouldn't have changed a thing. That is really what he wanted to do."
Plite was a successful swimmer and a talented artist in high school. He painted a mural for the previous owners of the Perk Up coffeehouse in Grand Ledge. It featured five jazz musicians.
Current owner Samantha Parks had hung a quilt over the painting because it didn't fit her redecoration. But she removed it Monday, attaching a note asking people to pray for Plite's family.
"Everyone is just pretty shocked," Parks said.
Friends are focusing on Plite's accomplishments and plan to set up a memorial fund in his honor. They want to establish anything from a plaque in his name to a college art scholarship.
"At 21 he made a difference that our children will be grateful for," Michael O'Berski said.
The Pentagon identified the others who died as 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.; Lt. Col. John Stein, 39, of Bardolph, Ill.; and Staff Sgt. John Teal, 29, of Dallas, Texas.
WILX - Lansing, MI by Lori Jane Gliha
Nearly 1,000 family and friends paid their respects during a funeral for senior airman Jason Plite.
The Grand Ledge man was killed when his rescue helicopter crashed in Afghanistan on March 23. Plite was on a mission to save a couple Afghan children when he died.
People who knew Plite say he lived by the Air Force pararescuer motto, "That others may live."
Family members are asking people to donate money to a memorial fund rather than sending flowers. A fund is set up with:
914 Charlevoix Suite 100
Grand Ledge, MI 48837
They say the memorial fund will help carry on Plite's love for the arts and swimming
The following email was received on April 4, 2003 from retired Pararescueman Herb Kee regarding the funeral of Jason Plite Jason's funeral was held on April 3rd at South Baptist Church, 5250 Cornerstone Drive. Instead of flowers, Plite's family requested that donations to the Jason Plite Memorial Fund be sent to Flagstar Bank, 914 Charlevoix Dr. Suite 100, Grand Ledge, MI 48837.
Deb and I were able to go to
Lansing and attend the funeral. Approximately 600 people attended the service
which lasted for two hours. The service was very moving and inspirational. Five
active duty and two retired PJ's were present. Also present were several members
of the armed services, The Lansing Fire Department, Lansing Police Department,
Michigan State Troopers, and members of the Sheriffs Department. The active duty
1st Lt. Rob Taylor
MSgt Dan Horton
SSgt Chis Trisko
SRA Sean Cunningham
SRA Luke Naughton
MSgt Herb Kee
MSgt Craig Newman
The procession to the grave site was nearly two miles long. The Honor Guard was from Wright-Patterson AFB and performed their duties with all honor and dignity. The family was very appreciative of the PJ's attendance and support. "That Others May Live."
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