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Victims Of Apache Helicopter Crash Honored In Memorial Service

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MORRISVILLE, N.C. — Two National Guardsmen killed in a helicopter crash about two weeks ago were remembered Sunday afternoon in a private memorial service at the Army Aviation Support Facility in Morrisville.

Captain Christopher Plummer and Chief Warrant Officer 3 Richard James were killed on Thursday, May 5, when their Apache helicopter crashed into the Cape Fear River.

Both soldiers were assigned to the First Battalion, 130th Aviation Regiment, which is based in Morrisville.

"As long as Americans have soldiers with the quality and character of Captain Plummer and Chief James, we will remain a strong and free nation," Lt. Col. Ronny Coats, battalion commander, said during the memorial service.

James, who lived in Lewisville, had served more than 20 years in the military, including the last 16 as a member of the N.C. National Guard. The 44-year-old was part of the unit that returned in May 2004 from a 10-month deployment in Afghanistan. James had a son and two daughters.

Plummer, the co-pilot, lived in North Raleigh. He joined the N.C. National Guard in May 2002, and had served 13 years as a reservist. He was 31 years old.

"We're all a big family here," First Lt. Bill Kidd said. "When something like this happens, it's tough, especially when it was a good friend, like Chris was."

James and Plummer had boarded the helicopter on Thursday, May 5, for a routine training mission. The densely wooded area on the Chatham-Lee county line, where the helicopter crashed, makes for an ideal training ground for a unit that flew 9,000 hours in Afghanistan last year. The unit had not had a serious accident in 24 years.

"That's the nature of the business," CW3 David Kalcevic said. "Sometimes unfortunate accidents happen. We pick up, learn from it, and move on."

Plummer and James were awarded service medals posthumously. Plummer was also awarded a promotion to captain.

Investigators still do not know what caused the helicopter to crash.

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