A Washington State University graduate and former rodeo queen was killed over the weekend in a helicopter crash in Iraq.
Army National Guard 1st Lt. Jaime Lynn Campbell, 25, was one of eight soldiers and four civilians who died in the Jan. 7 crash in northern Iraq.
Campbell was a pilot with the Guard’s 1st Battalion, 207th Aviation Regiment, based in Alaska.
Her parents, Jeff and Miki Krausse, live in Ephrata, where Campbell grew up and went to high school.
Her husband, Army Capt. Sam Campbell, with the Army’s 562nd Engineer Company, was stationed in Mosul, Iraq. He recently accompanied his wife’s remains back to the United States.
Funeral service details are still being arranged, said Jeff Krausse, who spoke Tuesday about his daughter’s enthusiastic and compassionate nature.
“She was a fun-loving, caring person. Everything she did she tried to be the best at,” he said.
Growing up the eldest of three sisters, Campbell participated in 4-H, served as student body president at Ephrata High School during her senior year, was a Miss Ephrata princess and won the title of 1998 Washington Rodeo Queen.
Campbell graduated from WSU with a bachelor’s degree in design. She originally joined the Army as an enlisted soldier, but while at school decided to join ROTC to help pay for college, Krausse said.
It was Krausse, an Army command sergeant major, who gave Campbell her first salute.
“I was very honored and proud of what she had accomplished,” said Krausse of that moment.
It’s Army tradition to give the first person who salutes you a silver dollar, and Krausse said he treasures the silver dollar Campbell gave him that day.
She was born into a tradition of military service. In addition to her father’s military career, Campbell’s grandfather served in the U.S. Army during World War II.
“She’s seen how it’s rewarding, and how you can serve your country,” said Krausse. “She tried to follow in my footsteps.”
The father and daughter were able to visit in Iraq for five days just before Thanksgiving, shortly before Krausse finished his tour of duty in mid-December.
“I got to go flying with her,” said Krausse, who added that the two discussed good times together.
“She talked about family and how she was homesick. But she knew she had a commitment that she had to finish,” he said.
The Black Hawk in Saturday’s crash was supporting the 101st Airborne Division when it went down east of Tal Afar. The cause of the crash, the deadliest in Iraq in a year, is unknown.
According to the U.S. Department of Defense, others killed in Saturday’s crash include Army Reserve Maj. Stuart M. Anderson, of Peosta, Iowa; Army Maj. Douglas A. Labouff, of California; Army Capt. Michael R. Martinez, of Missouri; Army 1st Lt. Joseph D. deMoors, of Jefferson, Ala.; Army National Guard Chief Warrant Officer 4 Chester W. Troxel, of Anchorage; and Army National Guard Spc. Michael I. Edwards, of Fairbanks, Alaska, and Jacob E. Melson of Wasilla, Alaska.
Family and friends are gathering in Ephrata to remember Campbell.
“She was like a glowing star,” said Krausse. “The world lost one great person when it lost her.”