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Crash victim's son says memorial honors all who served country

 

Ralph Ansami/Daily Globe

DORRENE O'DONNELL, executive director of the Hurley Chamber of Commerce, speaks at a Friday memorial ceremony for six Air Force members who lost their lives in two airplane crashes near Hurley in 1961. At left is Darrell Rasmussen, the son of one of the airmen, and in the middle is Ret. Air Force Col. Robert Kline. About 100 people attended the ceremony in Hurley.

HURLEY - The son of one of the six men who lost their lives in two B-47 crashes near Hurley in 1961 said Friday the memorial dedicated today will be a "testament to those killed in defense of their country, including others who were killed and don't have a memorial."

Darrell Rasmussen and 27 of his family members traveled from Nebraska to attend a Friday ceremony at the Iron County Memorial Building in Hurley. The joke was half of Nebraska showed up.

His father, Dale Rasmussen, was one of the six Air Force members who were killed in test flights.

The Air Force's 40th Bombardment Wing, out of Forbes Air Base in Topeka, Kan ., ran the training missions here because of the similarity in geography and climate to sites in Europe during the Cold War.

Four men were killed in one crash and two in the other.

A tearful Rasmussen praised the "endless sacrifice" of the Ironwood area residents who arranged for the memorial, namely Greg Landretti and Bruce Jackson, who have spent more than a decade on the project.

Dorrene O'Donnell, executive director of the Hurley Area Chamber of Commerce, led about 100 people attending the ceremony in a moment of silence.

Landretti, who lives near Madison has has extensively reaserched the crashes, detailed both B-47 crashes, one in February and the other in May.

"It's important to keep these memories alive," he said.

In 1961, Landretti said he was an 11-year-old in Ironwood and he remembers the B-47s soaring high. "It was the most amazing thing I had ever seen," he said.

Landretti described the men who were killed as dedicated to the values of their country, "not fearless, but courageous."

Ret. Air Force Col. Robert Kline, who flew 162 combat missions, described the numerous specialists that were required to fly the planes.

"This truly was a band of brothers," he said, referring to the Air Force members.

Dale Rasmussen was a pilot grader on the B-47.

"I'm here today with sadness, but pride," Kline said.

Darrell Rasmussen thanked the crash committee for its hard work. "They've done such a great job," he said.

Today at 1 p.m ., a ribbon-cutting ceremony will be conducted at the memorial site on Trail 13C, south of Hurley.