Elkhart soldier killed in Afghanistan during helicopter crash

A soldier from Elkhart has died while serving his country in Afghanistan.

U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Jesse Lee Williams, 30, was on a Black Hawk transport helicopter when it crashed on Tuesday in Afghanistan. Williams and five other soldiers died.

An Elkhart funeral director says Williams’ family will begin making arrangements Thursday, but predicts it will be a week before Jesse’s body is returned home.

Although he was living overseas, Williams called Elkhart his home. He attended Elkhart Central High School in 2003 and went on to Elkhart Area School's career center.

His daughter, Madison was born while Williams was touring overseas. Our reporting partners at The Elkhart Truth , were there when Williams first met his daughter in 2008 at the South Bend Regional Airport.

The Elkhart Truth spoke with Williams' mother, Debbie Bussard Passerallo shortly after she learned of her son's tragic death, “He was one brave young man."

Passerallo told the Elkhart Truth her son was on his third deployment and joined the military to work on computers.

“He was big and strong,” Passerallo said. “He didn't let things get him down. When he was a friend, he was a friend forever.”

NewsCenter 16 talked to Elkhart Community Schools (ECS) about what the district does when a graduate dies in the line of duty. ECS spokesperson, Shawn Hannon, said outside groups have contributed engraved stones as a memorial.


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