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South Dakota Man Who Piloted Navy Helicopter ‘Really Loved His Work’

August 1, 1987

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) _ Flying helicopters had been a lifetime passion of Lt. William E. Ramsburg.

The 31-year-old pilot of a Navy helicopter that crashed Thursday in the Persian Gulf ″really loved his work″ and wanted to spend the rest of his days airborne, recalled his sister-in-law, Shirley Cap, of Scotland, S.D., on Friday.

Ramsburg, who hailed originally from South Dakota, was one of three crew members missing as of Friday evening.

Mrs. Cap said she first heard about the helicopter crash during a television news announcement a couple hours before she was called and told the pilot was her brother-in-law. At the time, she said, she did not think about the possibility that it could be her relative.

Pentagon officials said the helicopter was on a routine flight to shuttle equipment and personnel from a land base to the USS LaSalle when it hit the ship. The co-pilot was killed in the crash. Five other men aboard the helicopter were rescued.

Ramsburg previously had been noted for his rescue work after the bombing of the USS Stark May 17. His helicopter was the first one to arrive on the scene after the ship was hit by two Exocet missiles from an Iraqi warplane.

The lieutenant left on a voluntary, temporary assignment in the Persian Gulf April 30 and since that time had not seen his wife, Denise, and daughter, Connie, in Orange Park, Fla., she said. He was temporarily assigned to the Helicopter Support Squadron 2, and was a member of the Helicopter Anti- Submarine Squadron 1 in Jacksonville, Fla.

He had never had an accident before, loved flying, and was well-trained and confident, she said.

″A person just doesn’t think it could be part of your family,″ she told the Sioux Falls Argus Leader.

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