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First Name: Steven

Last Name: Plumhoff

Birthplace: Somerville, NJ, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Air Force (1947 - present)

Date of Birth: 11 March 1970

Date of Death: 23 November 2003

Rank: Major

Years Served:
Steven Plumhoff

•  Afghanistan War (Operation Enduring Freedom) (2001 - present)


Steven Plumhoff
Major, U. S. Air Force
Operation Enduring Freedom - Afghanistan

Steven Plumhoff was born on 11 March 1970 in Somerville, NJ, the son of German immigrants. Steven graduated from Somerville High School in 1988 and had dreams of either writing fiction or flying helicopters. He opted for helicopters after graduating from the U.S. Air Force Academy with the class of 1992.

Military Service

Steven began his pilot training at the old Reese Air Force Base near Lubbock, TX, and served at Hill Air Force Base, UT, before his first assignment at Kirtland Air Force Base, NM, in 1995, for further training. After Kirtland, Plumhoff served in the Air Force's elite Special Operations Branch, first at Osan Air Base, South Korea, and later at Royal Air Force Station Mildenhall, England.

Even in the service's elite group, colleagues said Plumhoff stood out. He kept himself in tip-top physical shape and strived to know something about almost everything. He was a top Pave Low pilot, computer guru and sports trivia master. He also loved hockey and music. Details mattered to him. No one could match the shine of his combat boots - it was his trademark. For being so extraordinary, Plumhoff remained well-liked, and respected, by everyone around him. But it was his ability to do low night flights to deploy special operations troops which brought him respect from his peers. Steven's favorite saying was "No worries, it's all good."

He worked his way up through Air Force duties and ranks, starting as a Pave Low co-pilot and becoming a group safety officer, one of the most important duties in preventing accidents. In 1999, as NATO aircraft bombed Serbia to force Serb troops out of Kosovo, Plumhoff helped organize search-and-rescue operations that saved two U.S. pilots, including one from a downed F-117A stealth fighter jet from Holloman Air Force Base. In 2001 he returned to Kirtland. Steven was deployed from Kirtland in mid-October on a 60-day mission overseas and was to be back by Christmas.

Major Plumhoff was assigned to the 58th Operations Squadron, Kirtland Air Force Base. The 58th is a training wing for pilots and crews in the Air Force's Special Operations field. The service performs various covert, rescue and other missions overseas. The wing assists domestically with search and rescues. On 23 November 2003, during a tour in Afghanistan, Plumhoff was serving as pilot onboard an MH-53 Pave Low helicopter conducting combat operations for 'Operation Mountain Resolve' when it crashed nine miles east of Bagram Air Base. A compressor problem caused one of the two engines on the Pave Low to stall, leaving it with one engine operating and too much weight to carry in the thin mountain air. He unsuccessfully attempted to jettison the auxiliary tanks and then the other engine stalled while an emergency landing was being attempted. With all power lost, the helicopter fell from an altitude of about 200 feet onto an uneven river bank, rolled over and burst into flames. Eight people somehow managed to survive.


The Governor of New Jersey ordered the following by Executive Order 87:

The flag of the United States of America and the flag of the State of New Jersey shall be flown at half-staff at all State departments, offices, agencies and instrumentalities during appropriate hours on Wednesday, December 3, 2003, in recognition and mourning of Air Force Major Steven Plumhoff.

Death and Burial

Major Steven Plumhoff was killed during the crash of his helicopter on 23 November 2003 while on a combat mission. Four other men were also killed in the crash. An honor guard preceded a horse-drawn caisson containing a single flag-draped coffin with the remains of the five servicemen killed in the crash. Because their remains were commingled, the five men were buried in a single coffin with a single headstone. The burial, with full military honors, took place on 21 January 2004 at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, V. The grave is located in Section 60, Site 1821.

The names of the five men (in the order they are listed on the headstone) are:

Sergeant Major Phillip R. Albert, U.S. Army
Master Sergeant William J. Kerwood, U.S. Air Force
Staff Sergeant Thomas A. Walkup, Jr., U.S. Air Force
Technical Sergeant Howard A. Walters, U.S. Air Force
Major Steven Plumhoff, U.S. Air Force

Major Steven Plumhoff is survived by his wife, Yvette, and young son.

Honoree ID: 2192   Created by: MHOH




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