1st Lt. Jaime Campbell sits in an Alaska Army National Guard Black Hawk helicopter that she flew while stationed in Iraq.
ANCHORAGE A former Washington state rodeo queen was among the four Alaska Army National Guard crew members who died in a weekend helicopter crash in northern Iraq, relatives and friends said Tuesday.
She was identified as 1st Lt. Jaime Campbell of Fort Wainwright. Military personnel planned later Tuesday to officially release the names of all four Alaskans, who were members of the Guard's 1st Battalion, 207th Aviation Regiment.
Four civilians and four other military personnel also were killed in the crash Saturday.
Campbell, 25, had been living at the Fairbanks post with her husband. Army Capt. Sam Campbell also is in Iraq and will fly back with his wife's body, said her mother, Miki Krausse of Ephrata. Krausse said in a phone interview that her daughter was one of the two pilots flying the UH-60L Black Hawk when it went down.
Krausse described her daughter, the eldest of three daughters, as selfless and talented, an artist and expert horsewoman. While still in high school in Ephrata, she mastered her horse-handling skills so well that she was selected the state's rodeo queen.
"When she decided to do something, it had to be her best," Krausse said. "She was as beautiful inside as she was outside."
Campbell was the state rodeo queen in 1998, the same year she graduated from Ephrata High School as student-body president. She joined the Washington Army National Guard midway through her studies at Washington State University to help pay for school, and she graduated with a degree in interior design in 2003, Campbell's father, Jeff Krausse, told The Wenatchee World.
She chose to stay with the National Guard to pursue an aviation career, he said.
Jaime and her mother e-mailed each other every day. She also was close with her father, an Army command sergeant major who just returned from Iraq. Jeff Krausse said he spent five days with his daughter two months ago during a short break. His last image is of her in the pilot's seat when she flew him back to his post.
"I never got to give her a hug goodbye," he said, his voice breaking.
The last time Miki Krausse heard Jaime's voice was when she called to wish everyone a happy New Year.
"She said she loved us and missed us and couldn't wait to come home," she said. "She always told us she was safe, that she could take care of herself. She said not to worry about her."
The deaths were the first wartime fatalities since World War II for members of the Alaska Army National Guard.
In Saturday's crash, the Black Hawk was providing support for the 101st Airborne Division. It crashed east of Tal Afar, a northern city that has in the past seen heavy fighting with insurgents.
The cause of the crash is not known.
It was the deadliest helicopter crash in Iraq since about a year ago when a CH-53 Sea Stallion went down in bad weather in western Iraq, killing 31 U.S. service members.