Fallen Heroes of Operation Enduring Freedom

Remembering the servicemembers who died in the service of their country.

Air Force 1st Lt. Tamara Archuleta

23, of Los Lunas, New Mexico.
Archuleta died in an HH-60 Pave Hawk accident in Afghanistan. She was assigned to the 41st Rescue Squadron, Moody Air Force Base, Georgia. Died on March 23, 2003.

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"I call Capt. Tammy's parents and grandmother twice a year on Memorial Day and Veteran'Day. Her son is now in high school. They are all doing fine. We always have a good talk about what is happening in the world of the current military and general "life still goes on issues" but Tammy is gone. She will never be home for Christmas.
Major Van Harl USAF Ret.


In the Jemez Mountains of the Santa Fe National Forest, about three hours drive out of Albuquerque, New Mexico, at 8000 feet is a wonderful place called Rancho del Chaparral. It is the summer camp for the Chaparral Girl Scout Council of Albuquerque. When the Colonel was stationed at Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque our daughter attended many Girl Scout functions at that camp. I came to like it so much that for three years I would spend weeks at a time volunteering my labor, helping the camp Ranger do needed maintenance. In return for my free labor I got to hike in the forest and watch elk walk past me in the evening, when all was quiet. Prior to moving to New Mexico my daughter and I had done Civil War re-enacting and I had built a wooden handcart. I used the handcart to simulate removing the wounded and dead from a re-enacting battlefield. On Kirtland AFB I kept it out in my front yard with a US flag posted on it. On the flag in small print were the names of veterans who I knew were deployed. One day while working in my front yard an Air Force rescue helicopter flew low over my home. I looked at it and my handcart at the same time and realized that the rescue helicopter was the modern day version of the venerable old handcart. I went into the house to write a poem titled “The Handcart Boys.” It was about the men and women who risked their lives in helicopters to bring our injured and dead troops out of harms way. Days after I wrote that poem the Air Force lost a Pave Hawk rescue helicopter in Afghanistan. The co-pilot was from Belen, New Mexico (a few miles south of Albuquerque) and she had been a very active Girl Scout in her youth. She had spent many happy days camping at Rancho. I sent a copy of the poem to her minister who conducted the funeral. To my surprise it was used in the eulogy. I never knew Captain Tamara Long-Archuleta, USAF, but I have come to know her family. One day while working at the camp an Air Force rescue aircraft flew over. It could have been Captain Tammy on a training flight, but it wasn’t, she was gone. There is a large rock sticking out of the ground in a clearing at the camp. This is a landmark used by flight-for-life helicopter pilots to navigate on to, if someone were seriously injured during camp. I named it Rescue Rock and started working with the Girl Scouts to develop a memorial for Captain Tammy. This got me assigned to a year long planning committee and lots of hours of manual labor. The camp Ranger and I dug large boulders out of the side of the mountain to establish a thirty foot stone ring around Rescue Rock. A local LDS church group provided most of the back breaking labor and technical support. The council had a memorial stone carved and it was placed in front of Rescue Rock. During the year long planning I got to know the parents of Captain Tammy, Richard and Cindy Long. Everybody thinks their child is special--but Captain Tammy was. She was a world class Karate champion. Distinguish college graduate, an Air Force officer & rescue pilot and a mother. She was supposed to be leaving Afghanistan in a few weeks and come home to be married. She had wanted to be a rescue pilot since she was a little girl. She even developed a board game in school called “Rescue Princess.” But this game was different, the Princess went out and risked her life to save, not be saved. This was what she was doing on her last mission, trying to rescue two injured Afghan children. She wanted to be a career Air Force officer and most likely would not be home in New Mexico for Christmas this year if she was still on active duty. But now, Captain Tammy will never been home for Christmas. No Christmas Eve service at the little Methodist Church in Belen. No seeing the folks, no new husband and no young son to hold. She was a hero for her country, for her Air Force, for her family and most important for her son, but Captain Tammy will not be home for Christmas. Remember your veterans, but whenever you can, hold tight your active duty family members—they may not ever be home for Christmas again, make the time count. Thank you Captain Tammy and to your family, I am so sorry.

5 December 2006
Major Van Harl USAF Ret.
Major Van Harl USAF Ret of Milwaukee County, WI

"Wow, such great words left here about Lt Archuleta. I was involved in her pilot training at Laughlin AFB, and she left an indelible mark on me. I was actually stationed elsewhere when I read about her death in Time magazine. I was shocked and so saddened. The only way I can understand it was to think God needed another Archangel up in Heaven."
Capt Rock

"Not sure why I felt drawn to this incident after 12 years. But I felt a need today to see who Tamara was. I was an apache pilot on QRF out of Bagram the night this crash happened. We were told a chopper went down and there was gun fire at the crash zone and we were needed "quick". At first we had to turn back just South of Kabul due to bad weather. We went back to Bagram and refueld. We were finally successful reaching the scene. Under the goggles I made out small fires here and there littering the desert floor. It was obvious there were no survivors. The only piece that remained intact was a small section of the tail rotor and boom. Even though I was in a noisey helicopter a silence crept over me. I did not know who any of these people were. I just knew at this moment in time there were 6 familes back home shopping, going to baseball games, the movies, eating lunch, etc.. I always wondered what they were doing at that moment. Did they know??
If I remember correctly after all these years Tamara was doing terrain following aerial refueling on the right wing of a C-130 that her boyfriend was piloting at the time. Don't know if it is true or not. Just what I heard. It would have been a terrible place to refuel mid-air and they didn't hit the side of a mountain. They hit a berm sticking up out of the ground. Just one big berm and they hit the top 1/3rd of it. Needless to say it was a very tragic story. Tamara, while I did not know you personally, I felt a connection as I watched you on the flightline being loaded onto a C-17 at Bagram for your final mission home. God Bless and may your family have found peace. You are a great American who answered the call that has fallen on so many other deaf ears."
Bryan of NC

"I was one of Tammy's T-37 instructor pilots at Laughlin. I was very sad to hear of her passing, along with the rest of the crew. Hard to believe that so much time has passed. May God bless her family. She is not forgotten."
Rob of Lenoir City, TN

"It's been 12 years today since Komodo 11 launched out & didn't return that night from a humanitarian mission to provide aid to 2 children in Afghanistan. And still, as always, we remember the 6 crew members and their sacrifice. I don't know for sure if my USAF career ever crossed paths with any of these heroes, but I would be most honored if it had, as would any of us be so honored. May God continue to Bless these 6 fallen Airmen, their families, and members of all the US Armed Forces branches & our allied Services who continue on with the mission, "That Others May Live". In the end, that's what all of the US military missions boil down to. That this nation and all our allies and like minded peoples around the world may continue to enjoy the inalienable blessings of freedom & liberty. "These Things We Do That Others May Live."

From a retired USAF NCO and original member (plank holder) of the 512th SOS/RQS, The Rescue Schoolhouse, KAFB, NM"
F111ECM of Rio Rancho NM

"Its been ten years and I still honor and remember Lt. Tamara Archuleta. I never got to meet her but I was in field and was assigned to walk along side her down disney dr. and start her final journey home. As soon as we placed her coffin onto the plane I knew I was in the presence of a true hero."
Cesar of El Paso, Tx

"Worked with these folks every day.... Absolute professionals that loved their lives and what they did. Thank God That we have people who would give the ultimate sacrifice and am honored to have known them! Maltze.... A man who loved his life as much as he loved living it... and his children."
John Bishop of Valdosta georgia

"Worked with these folks every day.... Absolute professionals that loved their lives and what they did. Thank God That we have people who would give the ultimate sacrifice and am honored to have known them! Maltze.... A real Mans, Man!"
John Bishop of Valdosta georgia

"The following was written on the day of Tammy's funeral

"The Handcart Boys"
Yesterday was a sad day. I attended the funeral of 1LT. Tamara Long-Archuleta USAF. She was the copilot of an Air Force HH-60G rescue helicopter that went down in Afghanistan during a rescue mission. There were six aircrew members killed. In this message is a poem "the handcart boys." It was written a few days before 1Lt. Long-Archuleta was killed, but a lot of what happened on that mission is directly related in the body of the poem.

I sent the poem to the minister that conducted the service for 1Lt. Long-Archuleta and asked him, if he felt the poem was appropriate, to please pass it on to the Long family. Yesterday to my surprise the poem was used in the eulogy.

It is becoming very apparent that we can no longer engage in conflict without special ops and helicopters. The helicopter used in rescue, is the modern-day "handcart." The handcart is how; down through history the dead and wounded were removed from the battle field. Look at the case of PFC. Jessica Lynch and her rescue. It was the "handcart boys" who went in and got her out safely.

In the Army, artillery is known as the king of the battlefield, infantry is the queen of the battlefield but I would say that helicopter special ops and rescue are the Prince and in case of 1LT. Long-Archuleta the Princess of the battlefield.

We just cannot do it without helicopters. Think about it, when Marine One lands on the White House lawn.

It was a sad day yesterday with the loss of 1Lt. Long-Archuleta but it was also a wonderful day because the very mission she believed in and gave her life for, "the handcart boys/girls" safely rescued a fellow military member. There will be one less funeral this week because of the "handcart boys."

Major Van E. Harl USAF Ret.

"The Handcart boys"

He's lying in the tree line, blood running down his arm.
Listening for the sound of the Handcart boys, to remove him from this harm.
He flew in on a modern jet that got shot down in this affray.
But he is no different than the wounded at Shiloh, trying to survive, till they safely take him away.

In the dark of the night she waits with so much pain to bear.
Injured in the crash of her aircraft and now this seemly endless nightmare.
Where is the chopper that will lift her from the smoke, the fire and the pain?
Where are the Handcart boys, hurry, her life is beginning to drain?

He was wounded when a round slammed onto the "cruiser's" deck.
Shards of metal are protruding from his arm, shoulder and the right side his neck.
The corpsman has stopped the bleeding; he's been prepared, to be extracted in the night.
The Handcart boys are racing his way, and will be there before first light.

Get in, get them out, and hurry back, inside the safety of our lines.
It has been this way since ancient wars, to the battles of modern times.
The two-wheel Handcart is the way the wounded were removed from battles in past wars.
Our modern Handcart has a rotor-blade and sliding doors.

Look at history, look at artwork, recent photos or at movies if you will.
When it came to removing the wounded and injured off of some war torn desolate hill.
It was a Handcart carrying the broken and the dying with their screams of pain.
It was a Handcart transporting at Normandy in the cold June rain.

Every branch of the service has its modern version of the Handcart boys who respond to the call.
They go out for the wounded and dead, bring them back, get them all.
Some times the Handcart boys are brought back in a Handcart not of their own.
Some times they become the wounded & the dying, and for their efforts, they never come home.

There are also women who work these, latter-day Handcarts and their lives too, are on the line.
It is a dangerous mission, but just as their predecessors they to make that recovery in time.
They move out over the desert, into the night as the sand blows and swirls.
These Handcart operators are our Handcart girls.

I have a two-wheeled wooden handcart with an old worn flag sitting out on my front lawn.
It is not a protest, it's a reminder of our dead, who returned by Handcart, lying there upon.
In order to defend this Nation, we will continue to send the brave & young, our freedom they earn.
And we will always have a need for the Handcarts, for our wounded and dead, they must return.

Major Van E. Harl, USAF Ret. 15 March 2003
Major Van Harl USAF Ret of Milwaukee County WI

I am a cadet in the Civil Air Patrol, USAF Auxiliary. I plan to go onto the greater service of our country when i graduate high school in 2015 then go to VMI, and commission as a 2nd Lt in the USAF as a fighter pilot. I would like to give you a final salute ma'am, as you went onto the greater service of our country and paid the ultimate sacrifice.
"Cross into the blue...the USAF.""
C/SAmn Kaitlyn M. Benz, MER-VA-141, Civil Air Patrol, USAF Auxiliary of chesapeake,va

"Prayer Shawls 4 Fallen Soldiers (ps4fs@charter.net) is an organization with groups throughout the country who strive to send handmade prayer shawls and/ or lap robes to families who have lost a loved one in service to our country. Members of Trindle Spring Lutheran Church in Mechanicsburg, PA would like to honor your fiance, mother and daughter’s sacrifice and memory by sending our prayers and comfort through a shawl which we will mail to you. If you are interested, please contact me at gramman@comcast.net with the names and addresses and what they would like to receive. We will send them as soon as possible. Also, if you know of any other families who are grieving the loss of a loved one who died serving our country, please pass along my e-mail address, as our organization can no longer get family contacts through the military. May God bless you and comfort you in the days ahead. Sincerely, Lynne"
Lynne Neibert of Mechanicsburg

"Memorial Day - 2010

I had the honor of being Tamara's classmate at Air Force Pilot Training, Laughlin AFB, TX. My family and I have always remembered her and honored her sacrifice. At our wedding Mass in 2004, my wife and I offered a prayer for our deceased relatives and friends that included Tamara. May God give us the courage to face life in such a noble manner as our fallen hero."
Major Steven Niewiarowski of Cannon AFB, NM

"Seven years later - still remembering Tammy and her family this Memorial Day weekend. Hope karate is still going well! Best wishes and prayers."
Lt Col Cheryl Schramm of Toledo, Ohio

"Tamara we only knew each other for a short time, I remember the last things we did together like painting the christmas card for the squadron holiday contest. You were a brilliant co pilot and an amazing woman. You are missed, god bless your family and son."
Chris Bowers of Lakeland, Florida

"May 28, 2007 (Memorial Day)
To the family of Tamara Archuleta. Tamara gave the ultimate sacrifice and will be held in the hearts of Americans forever. I cannot and will not let our fallen heroes be forgotten. My deepest sympathy to you. "Some gave all."
Peggy Childers
"Don't Let The Memory Of Them Drift Away"
Peggy Childers of Carson City, NV

"As her fiancee, I want to thank all who have posted here for their kind words. Tammy was indeed an incredible woman. Fiction has not been written that describes how incredible her life was, particularly those last few months. Just know that she died at peace with herself, her family, and her life. She is now most likely running things up in heaven."
Casey Moores of Moody AFB, GA

"April, 2007. More than 4 years have gone by, Tami. I still think of you, your energy, dedication, motivation, great personality and smile. You still inspire me to work at being a better person and to remember to help others less fortunate as you did. God bless you and God bless your family."
Kelly dePalo of Viennna VA

"It is February 21, 2007 - almost 4 years since Tammy's death. I was thinking of her today and got out her last letter to me, dated 17 March 2003 (6 days before the crash). She wrote from her deployed location and the last line of the letter reads, "Hopefully I will be going home soon." Tammy, I guess you are home now, and I hope you have all the joy that we wish for you. I wish I had told you when I had the chance how dear you are to me and what a true friend you were. Wanbliwin, we miss you still."
Cara Ebner of Grand Forks AFB, ND

"Thank you for the service and sacrifice of your beloved daughter.

My son serves with the 41st Rescue Squadron, Moody Air Force Base, and has deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan.

God bless you with peace and comfort in 2007."
Rev. Douglas K. Batchelder of Phillipsburg, NJ, USA

Thanks for being a friend when we were deployed together. I looked forward to talking to you because we were similar...my age, my rank, and easy to talk to. Of all the people on Komodo 11 you are the first one I think about and it was trully noble to do what all of you did that night despite the horrible weather. You were trully a great person, great with the kids during our tours of the maintenance facility at Moody, and one hell of a good friend.

Aaron Milner, Capt, USAF
Mx Oficer w/41 ERQS, K1 and K2"
Aaron Milner of Deployed in Kuwait

"More than 3 years later and Tammy's death still hurts...she is sorely missed in all our hearts."
Cara Ebner of Grand Forks AFB ND

"More than 3 years since the accident, my thoughts and prayers are still with you and your family. Three of you on that crew were to be married soon, so my wedding two months later was bittersweet. May God watch over your son and loved ones."
Maj Cheryl Schramm of St Petersburg, FL


"Lt. Archuleta,
Maam, I would like to say thank you and your fellow crewmembers for your service and sacrifice for our Country. And to your family, I wish to extend my deepest sympathy."
Mike Casey of El Paso, Texas

"Thank you so very much for sacrificing everything to make the world a better place for my son to grow up. God bless you in heaven and may God bless & comfort your family."





Abby Bae Lang of San Francisco, CA - USA

"To the family and friends,

Our prayers are with you in this most difficult time and we thank you for your loved ones bravery and sacrifice. May God strengthen you from knowing that fellow Americans and people around the world care about you and grieve with you in your loss. Your loved one is a hero. Greater love have no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13.

God bless you.

Home Front Ministries
Shepherd of the Hills Church
Porter Ranch, CA"

"Thank you Tami!!
Your a true soldier in our hearts!! You have fought for our freedom and I thank you for giving us so much! May God Bless you and your family!!"
Angela of Albuquerque, NM

"Thanks for stepping forward when America needed you. To the family - Thank you for your contribution to our liberty and freedom. I'm sorry for your tremendous loss."
Ronald Carlson of Montrose, MN

"Beautiful face, beautiful smile."
Kim E. Valencia of Silver City, New Mexico

"Thank you brave soldier for sacrificing your today for my children's safer tomorrow. You have our utmost respect and gratitude. May God provide your family with comfort in their time of sorrow. May you forever rest in Heavenly peace. Neither you nor your sacrifice will be forgotten. For the family/friends: May time provide happy loving memories in place of present sorrows. Look to the sky for in the infinite meadows of Heaven the bright shining stars bloom....the forget-me-nots of angels. God bless you and thank you."
a grateful family in Phoenix, AZ

"Lieutenant Archuleta, goodbye soldier and thank you. You are my hero."
Bill of Houston, Texas

"I have just read the article in today's New York Times that printed a few of the e-mails Tamara Archuleta sent home while she was in Afghanistan. Reading her words, I felt that she must have been a truly amazing soldier, mother, friend and daughter. I am in awe of the courage and strength that she must have had when she left for Afghanistan, determined to make the world a safer place. I owe her, and her loved ones, an enormous debt of gratitude. She will be in my thoughts and prayers."
Jessica of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

"Dear Archuleta Family: I am so very sorry for the loss of your loved one. It is because of Tamara that I am free today. Her sacrafice has not been forgotten and it NEVER will be. Tamara is a TRUE AMERICAN HERO now and always. I will FOREVER be indebted to her and her family. You are all in my thoughts and prayers. God Bless. Tamara: THANK YOU. May you rest in peace."
Jessica of Rio Vista,CA

"As I write this, it is nearly one year since Tami's much-too-soon departure. My own son, Shaun, was in Tami's ROTC class at UNM and he was very much affected by her accident (He is in UPT now). I never met Tami myself, but did talk to her on occassion when she would call for Shaun to invite him to some ROTC function or party. She always seemed like a very pleasant young lady.

To the Archuleta family, you have our deepest sympathy. From the Stanton family, Cy Mary, Shaun and Ryan."
Cy Stanton of Edgewood, NM

"My deepest respect goes to Lt. Archuleta. Her dedication to duty and what she gave so the rest of us could live free and safer.

Because of soldiers like her we have what we have in this country.

God bless her and her family."
The Estes Family of Phoenix, AZ

"While I never had the pleasure to know you, I think of women like you, serving our country, and am grateful. You will not be forgotton."
Laura of LaGrange, Illinois

"I think of Tami everytime I see a female in a flightsuit, and that is daily here at Moody AFB, Georgia. I am Tami's commander's spouse and got to know her fairly well. She was so professional, intelligent, motivated and had more energy that anyone I've ever met. In my eyes, her plate was always so full of taskings, but she would quickly accomplish it all even with her busy flight schedule and ask for more. The sharpest officer for being so new to the Air Force that my husband had seen. She was also selfless in nature. Her last Christmas she organized our Squadron party and arranged for donations of food and toys for those less fortunate. I felt the love she had for her family, her son and her future husband one day while she shared her photos with me. I keep her family in my prayers and thank Tami for touching my life."
Kelly dePalo of Valdosta, GA

Not a day goes by where I don't think of you and your crew and the job you were doing over in Afghanistan. I remember your last email and the excitement that poured out to me in it. I was proud to call you a classmate in the H-60 schoolhouse and even prouder to have you as a friend. The world is a lesser place without you. Rest in peace my friend.."
Phil Bianco

"Thank you Tamara Archuleta, you will not be forgotten. Your bravery goes beyond words. I want to express my deepest gratitude for your sacrifice. To the family and friends, my prayers and deep condolences in your loss. May God strengthen you from knowing that fellow Americans and people around the world care about you and grieve with you in your loss. God bless you all. A very appreciative fellow American,"
Leo Titus of Grayslake, Illinios

"Lt. you were always a source for amazement. So others may live!"
Boggy of H-60 Gunner

"I was one of Lt Archuleta's instructor pilots at the 58 SOW. Her death is a particular tragedy as she was still so excited about her future. She'd had a tough time in her young career but everything was beginning to go her way. Her future was wide open and her past was behind her. A promising young life was cut short on a God-forsaken Afghani mountainside. There has to be a special place in heaven for those who die too young, while their eyes still gleam with excitement and their noses can still detect the "new car smell" of the helicopter they're flying. There is no way to replace our eager youth, for they were the seeds of hope for a better world. Now there's one less person to leave it to. For that I am particularly saddened. One more tragic death to add to the honored rolls of the dead..."
Trevor J. Boyko of Ramstein, Germany

"To the family and friends of 1st Lt. Tamara Archuleta:
May God's grace be with you during your time of grief. Please know that our thoughts and prayers are with you and we feel your loss and share in your sorrow. Bless Tamara for the sacrifice she has made to make a better life for the rest of us."
The Ford Family of Wells, Nevada

"To the family and friends of 1st Lt. Tamara Archuleta:
I am saddened by the loss of your loved one. She will always be remembered as a hero for fighting for freedom. I hope that this website will be a source of comfort and encouragement for you during this difficult time, and in the future as you recall the memories of Tamara, who continues to live on in your heart."
Tim Rivera of Powder Springs, Georgia

Honor them by remembering... Freedom - is their gift to us But his soul goes marching on