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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

War hits home for Cherokee banker

Thursday, November 1, 2001

Whoever said the war is far away from here hasn't met Don Harms.

For Harms, a banker at Central Savings and Trust in Cherokee, the war hit home last Saturday as news arrived that his nephew, 20-year-old Specialist Jonn Edmunds, had perished in a helicopter crash in Pakistan.

"I didn't even know he was there until my sister called Saturday morning," said Harms. "He was based in Pakistan and would have been there two weeks this Tuesday."

Edmunds was one of two Rangers killed when their Black Hawk helicopter crashed during the fist covert ground mission into Afghanistan. He was a member of B Company, Third Battalion, of the 75th Ranger Regiment based at Fort Benning, Ga.

"When they dropped the Rangers into Afghanistan, he was on stand-by. They were on a search and rescue helicopter to pick them up if there were problems," Harms said of his nephew's mission. "They had a (visual) brownout."

The Black Hawk was holding position just across the border in case of an emergency. Officials believe dust blown up by the helicopter's rotor blades contributed to the crash. They have also ruled out hostile activity as the cause of the crash.

Harms added that American forces retrieved the wreckage of the helicopter late Wednesday. The incident occurred approximately 60 miles from the Afghanistan border at night. Three other crew members survived the crash with minor injuries.

Edmunds' remains were flown to Germany's Ramstein Air Base, but officials have not said when they will be returned to the United States.

Harms said his nephew's dream was to join the military. "He was really quiet and wanted to be in the Army and be a Ranger," he said.

Edmunds joined the service in July of 1999 and finished his Ranger training in March.

Edmunds' friends and family describe him as a serious, driven perfectionist.

"To look at him, in his outfit, just in his eyes and facial expression, you could see just how serious about the military he was, about the United States and defending his country," said Billy Inman, a high school friends of Edmunds.

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