Archuleta, Tamara Long

Tamara “Tammy” Long-Archuleta, Captain (Select), USAF (Fallen)
May 12, 1979 – March 23, 2003

Albuquerque Journal – March 30, 2003

Tamara “Tammy” Long-Archuleta, Captain Select USAF, was born on May 12, 1979 to Richard and Cindy Long of Belen, NM. She grew up at their family home in Adelino, NM along with her brother, Michael.

She attended Belen Public Schools through 6th grade and was home schooled until attending college at UNM-VC. She graduated Valedictorian with her associate’s degree and entered the R.O.T.C. program at UNM main campus. She married Jovan Archuleta and had a child, Donaciano Prudencio Archuleta. Tammy graduated from college with her bachelor’s degree in Political Science in July of 1999. She received her commission in the United States Air Force as a 2nd Lt. and was the first woman to receive her wings through UNM’s ROTC program. After a short time in Alamogordo, she began flight training in Del Rio, Texas on small jets. From there, Tammy was assigned to helicopter school in Enterprise, Alabama. Tammy had been divorced from her husband and was raising her son while she completed training.

She finished helicopter training on the Pave Hawk HH-60G Search and Rescue copter at Kirtland Air Force Base in September 2002 before being assigned to the 41st Expeditionary Rescue Squadron at Moody AFB in Valdosta, Georgia. While completing water and mountain survival training and her P.O.W. training, she met and became engaged to a wonderful man, 1st Lt. Richard Casey Moores, a C-130 Airplane pilot for the Air Force. Tammy and Casey were planning a June wedding at the USAF Academy in Colorado Springs, where he had graduated.

At 23, Tammy was at one of the happiest points in her life while raising her son, piloting her combat rescue helicopter, and anticipating her marriage to Casey. All of this came to an end on Sunday, March 23, 2003 when her helicopter crashed into a mountain in Afghanistan. She was on a mission to evacuate wounded Afghan children. All six on board lost their lives. It is an indescribable tragedy for the Long and Moores family, as well as her close friends.

Growing up in Belen, Tammy was an accomplished student, winning the Optimist Oratorical District contest for six years. She was an accomplished Girl Scout and swimmer. Other accomplishments include Karate Championships at the State, National, and World level as a third degree black belt and instructor at Belen Goju Ryu Karate School. Tammy was also a wonderful artist, sculptor, and author. In every activity and endeavor in her life she excelled, representing herself, family, community, and country in a manner that made anyone who knew her feel proud. She died the same way she lived.

She is survived by her beloved son, Donaciano Prudencio Archuleta; her parents, Cindy and Richard Long; her brother, Michael Long; and grandmother, Rebecca Long; her fiancé, 1st Lt. Richard Casey Moores; Uncle Michael Long, Retired Air Force; Aunt Debbie Long; and cousins, Lauren, Andy, and Mark; Jovan Archuleta; and her many dear friends.

A Memorial Scholarship Fund has been established in Tammy’s name, acct. #2009323, at any First State Bank.

A memorial service will be held on Tuesday, March 1, 2003 from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at Belen Goju Ryu Karate School (101 Becker Avenue). Visitation will be held on Wednesday, March 2, 2003 at Calvary Chapel Rio Grande Valley (located on Hwy. 85 in Belen) beginning at 12:30 p.m. with a funeral service following at 1:00 p.m. Graveside services will be held at Terrace Grove Cemetery.

Please call Romero Funeral Home on Monday to confirm service times (505) 864-8501


“Its been ten years and I still honor and remember Lt. Tamara Archuleta. I never got to meet her but I was in field and was assigned to walk alongside her down disney dr. and start her final journey home. As soon as we placed her coffin onto the plane I knew I was in the presence of a true hero.”
Cesar of El Paso, TX.

“Worked with these folks every day…. Absolute professionals that loved their lives and what they did. Thank God that we have people who would give the ultimate sacrifice and am honored to have known them! Maltze…. A man who loved his life as much as he loved living it… and his children.”
John Bishop of Valdosta, Georgia

“The Handcart Boys”
Yesterday was a sad day. I attended the funeral of 1LT. Tamara Long-Archuleta USAF. She was the copilot of an Air Force HH-60G rescue helicopter that went down in Afghanistan during a rescue mission. There were six aircrew members killed. In this message is a poem “the handcart boys.” It was written a few days before 1Lt. Long-Archuleta was killed, but a lot of what happened on that mission is directly related in the body of the poem.

I sent the poem to the minister that conducted the service for 1Lt. Long-Archuleta and asked him, if he felt the poem was appropriate, to please pass it on to the Long family. Yesterday to my surprise the poem was used in the eulogy.

It is becoming very apparent that we can no longer engage in conflict without special ops and helicopters. The helicopter used in rescue, is the modern-day “handcart.” The handcart is how; down through history the dead and wounded were removed from the battle field. Look at the case of PFC. Jessica Lynch and her rescue. It was the “handcart boys” who went in and got her out safely.

In the Army, artillery is known as the king of the battlefield, infantry is the queen of the battlefield but I would say that helicopter special ops and rescue are the Prince and in case of 1LT. Long-Archuleta the Princess of the battlefield.

We just cannot do it without helicopters. Think about it, when Marine One lands on the White House lawn.

It was a sad day yesterday with the loss of 1Lt. Long-Archuleta but it was also a wonderful day because the very mission she believed in and gave her life for, “the handcart boys/girls” safely rescued a fellow military member. There will be one less funeral this week because of the “handcart boys.”
Major Van E. Harl USAF Ret.

“The Handcart boys”
He’s lying in the tree line, blood running down his arm.
Listening for the sound of the Handcart boys, to remove him from this harm.
He flew in on a modern jet that got shot down in this affray.
But he is no different than the wounded at Shiloh, trying to survive, till they safely take him away.
In the dark of the night she waits with so much pain to bear.
Injured in the crash of her aircraft and now this seemly endless nightmare.
Where is the chopper that will lift her from the smoke, the fire and the pain?
Where are the Handcart boys, hurry, her life is beginning to drain?
He was wounded when a round slammed onto the “cruiser’s” deck.
Shards of metal are protruding from his arm, shoulder and the right side his neck.
The corpsman has stopped the bleeding; he’s been prepared, to be extracted in the night.
The Handcart boys are racing his way, and will be there before first light.
Get in, get them out, and hurry back, inside the safety of our lines.
It has been this way since ancient wars, to the battles of modern times.
The two-wheel Handcart is the way the wounded were removed from battles in past wars.
Our modern Handcart has a rotor-blade and sliding doors.
Look at history, look at artwork, recent photos or at movies if you will.
When it came to removing the wounded and injured off of some war torn desolate hill.
It was a Handcart carrying the broken and the dying with their screams of pain.
It was a Handcart transporting at Normandy in the cold June rain.
Every branch of the service has its modern version of the Handcart boys who respond to the call.
They go out for the wounded and dead, bring them back, get them all.
Sometimes the Handcart boys are brought back in a Handcart not of their own.
Sometimes they become the wounded & the dying, and for their efforts, they never come home.
There are also women who work these, latter-day Handcarts and their lives too, are on the line.
It is a dangerous mission, but just as their predecessors they to make that recovery in time.
They move out over the desert, into the night as the sand blows and swirls.
These Handcart operators are our Handcart girls.
I have a two-wheeled wooden handcart with an old worn flag sitting out on my front lawn.
It is not a protest, it’s a reminder of our dead, who returned by Handcart, lying there upon.
In order to defend this Nation, we will continue to send the brave & young, our freedom they earn.
And we will always have a need for the Handcarts, for our wounded and dead, they must return.
Major Van E. Harl, USAF Ret. 15 March 2003.” Major Van Harl USAF Ret of Milwaukee County WI

“Lt, I am a cadet in the Civil Air Patrol, USAF Auxiliary. I plan to go onto the greater service of our country when i graduate high school in 2015 then go to VMI, and commission as a 2nd Lt in the USAF as a fighter pilot. I would like to give you a final salute ma’am, as you went onto the greater service of our country and paid the ultimate sacrifice. “Cross into the blue…the USAF.””
C/SAmn Kaitlyn M. Benz, MER-VA-141, Civil Air Patrol, USAF Auxiliary of Chesapeake, Va

“Prayer Shawls 4 Fallen Soldiers ( is an organization with groups throughout the country who strive to send handmade prayer shawls and/ or lap robes to families who have lost a loved one in service to our country. Members of Trindle Spring Lutheran Church in Mechanicsburg, PA would like to honor your fiancée, mother and daughter’s sacrifice and memory by sending our prayers and comfort through a shawl which we will mail to you. If you are interested, please contact me at with the names and addresses and what they would like to receive. We will send them as soon as possible. Also, if you know of any other families who are grieving the loss of a loved one who died serving our country, please pass along my e-mail address, as our organization can no longer get family contacts through the military. May God bless you and comfort you in the days ahead. Sincerely, Lynne”
Lynne Neibert of Mechanicsburg

“Memorial Day – 2010
I had the honor of being Tamara’s classmate at Air Force Pilot Training, Laughlin AFB, TX. My family and I have always remembered her and honored her sacrifice. At our wedding Mass in 2004, my wife and I offered a prayer for our deceased relatives and friends that included Tamara. May God give us the courage to face life in such a noble manner as our fallen hero.”
Major Steven Niewiarowski of Cannon AFB, NM

“Seven years later – still remembering Tammy and her family this Memorial Day weekend. Hope karate is still going well! Best wishes and prayers.”
Lt Col Cheryl Schramm of Toledo, Ohio

“Tamara we only knew each other for a short time, I remember the last things we did together like painting the Christmas card for the squadron holiday contest. You were a brilliant copilot and an amazing woman. You are missed, god bless your family and son.”
Chris Bowers of Lakeland, Florida

“May 28, 2007 (Memorial Day)
To the family of Tamara Archuleta. Tamara gave the ultimate sacrifice and will be held in the hearts of Americans forever. I cannot and will not let our fallen heroes be forgotten. My deepest sympathy to you. “Some gave all.”
Peggy Childers

“Don’t Let The Memory Of Them Drift Away”
Peggy Childers of Carson City, NV

“As her fiancée, I want to thank all who have posted here for their kind words. Tammy was indeed an incredible woman. Fiction has not been written that describes how incredible her life was, particularly those last few months. Just know that she died at peace with herself, her family, and her life. She is now most likely running things up in heaven.”
Casey Moores of Moody AFB, GA

“April, 2007. More than 4 years have gone by, Tami. I still think of you, your energy, dedication, motivation, great personality and smile. You still inspire me to work at being a better person and to remember to help others less fortunate as you did. God bless you and God bless your family.”
Kelly dePalo of Viennna VA

“It is February 21, 2007 – almost 4 years since Tammy’s death. I was thinking of her today and got out her last letter to me, dated 17 March 2003 (6 days before the crash). She wrote from her deployed location and the last line of the letter reads, “Hopefully I will be going home soon.” Tammy, I guess you are home now, and I hope you have all the joy that we wish for you. I wish I had told you when I had the chance how dear you are to me and what a true friend you were. Wanbliwin, we miss you still.”
Cara Ebner of Grand Forks AFB, ND

“Thank you for the service and sacrifice of your beloved daughter. My son serves with the 41st Rescue Squadron, Moody Air Force Base, and has deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. God bless you with peace and comfort in 2007.”
Rev. Douglas K. Batchelder of Phillipsburg, NJ, USA

“Tammy, Thanks for being a friend when we were deployed together. I looked forward to talking to you because we were similar…my age, my rank, and easy to talk to. Of all the people on Komodo 11 you are the first one I think about and it was truly noble to do what all of you did that night despite the horrible weather. You were truly a great person, great with the kids during our tours of the maintenance facility at Moody, and one hell of a good friend.
Aaron Milner, Capt, USAF Mx. Officer w/41 ERQS, K1 and K2″, Aaron Milner of Deployed in Kuwait

“More than 3 years later and Tammy’s death still hurts…she is sorely missed in all our hearts.”
Cara Ebner of Grand Forks AFB ND

“More than 3 years since the accident, my thoughts and prayers are still with you and your family. Three of you on that crew were to be married soon, so my wedding two months later was bittersweet. May God watch over your son and loved ones.”
Maj Cheryl Schramm of St Petersburg, FL


“Lt. Archuleta, Ma’am, I would like to say thank you and your fellow crewmembers for your service and sacrifice for our Country. And to your family, I wish to extend my deepest sympathy.”
Mike Casey of El Paso, Texas

“Thank you so very much for sacrificing everything to make the world a better place for my son to grow up. God bless you in heaven and may God bless & comfort your family.”


“To the family and friends, Our prayers are with you in this most difficult time and we thank you for your loved ones bravery and sacrifice. May God strengthen you from knowing that fellow Americans and people around the world care about you and grieve with you in your loss. Your loved one is a hero. Greater love have no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13. God bless you.
Home Front Ministries, Shepherd of the Hills Church, Porter Ranch, CA”

“Thank you Tami!! You’re a true soldier in our hearts!! You have fought for our freedom and I thank you for giving us so much! May God Bless you and your family!!”
Angela of Albuquerque, NM

“Thanks for stepping forward when America needed you. To the family – Thank you for your contribution to our liberty and freedom. I’m sorry for your tremendous loss.”
Ronald Carlson of Montrose, MN

“Beautiful face, beautiful smile.”
Kim E. Valencia of Silver City, New Mexico

“Thank you brave soldier for sacrificing your today for my children’s safer tomorrow. You have our utmost respect and gratitude. May God provide your family with comfort in their time of sorrow. May you forever rest in Heavenly peace. Neither you nor your sacrifice will be forgotten. For the family/friends: May time provide happy loving memories in place of present sorrows. Look to the sky for in the infinite meadows of Heaven the bright shining stars bloom….the forget-me-nots of angels. God bless you and thank you.”
a grateful family in Phoenix, AZ

“Lieutenant Archuleta, goodbye soldier and thank you. You are my hero.”
Bill of Houston, Texas

“I have just read the article in today’s New York Times that printed a few of the e-mails Tamara Archuleta sent home while she was in Afghanistan. Reading her words, I felt that she must have been a truly amazing soldier, mother, friend and daughter. I am in awe of the courage and strength that she must have had when she left for Afghanistan, determined to make the world a safer place. I owe her, and her loved ones, an enormous debt of gratitude. She will be in my thoughts and prayers.”
Jessica of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

“Dear Archuleta Family: I am so very sorry for the loss of your loved one. It is because of Tamara that I am free today. Her sacrifice has not been forgotten and it NEVER will be. Tamara is a TRUE AMERICAN HERO now and always. I will FOREVER be indebted to her and her family. You are all in my thoughts and prayers. God Bless. Tamara: THANK YOU. May you rest in peace.”
Jessica of Rio Vista, CA.

“As I write this, it is nearly one year since Tami’s much-too-soon departure. My own son, Shaun, was in Tami’s ROTC class at UNM and he was very much affected by her accident (He is in UPT now). I never met Tami myself, but did talk to her on occasion when she would call for Shaun to invite him to some ROTC function or party. She always seemed like a very pleasant young lady. To the Archuleta family, you have our deepest sympathy. From the Stanton family, Cy Mary, Shaun and Ryan.”
Cy Stanton of Edgewood, NM

“My deepest respect goes to Lt. Archuleta. Her dedication to duty and what she gave so the rest of us could live free and safer. Because of soldiers like her we have what we have in this country. God bless her and her family.”
The Estes Family of Phoenix, AZ

“While I never had the pleasure to know you, I think of women like you, serving our country, and am grateful. You will not be forgotten.”
Laura of LaGrange, Illinois

“I think of Tami every time I see a female in a flight suit, and that is daily here at Moody AFB, Georgia. I am Tami’s commander’s spouse and got to know her fairly well. She was so professional, intelligent, motivated and had more energy that anyone I’ve ever met. In my eyes, her plate was always so full of tasking’s, but she would quickly accomplish it all even with her busy flight schedule and ask for more. The sharpest officer for being so new to the Air Force that my husband had seen. She was also selfless in nature. Her last Christmas she organized our Squadron party and arranged for donations of food and toys for those less fortunate. I felt the love she had for her family, her son and her future husband one day while she shared her photos with me. I keep her family in my prayers and thank Tami for touching my life.”
Kelly dePalo of Valdosta, GA

Not a day goes by where I don’t think of you and your crew and the job you were doing over in Afghanistan. I remember your last email and the excitement that poured out to me in it. I was proud to call you a classmate in the H-60 schoolhouse and even prouder to have you as a friend. The world is a lesser place without you. Rest in peace my friend..”
Phil Bianco

“Thank you Tamara Archuleta, you will not be forgotten. Your bravery goes beyond words. I want to express my deepest gratitude for your sacrifice. To the family and friends, my prayers and deep condolences in your loss. May God strengthen you from knowing that fellow Americans and people around the world care about you and grieve with you in your loss. God bless you all. A very appreciative fellow American,”
Leo Titus of Grayslake, Illinois

“Lt. you were always a source for amazement. So others may live!”
Boggy of H-60 Gunner

“I was one of Lt Archuleta’s instructor pilots at the 58 SOW. Her death is a particular tragedy as she was still so excited about her future. She’d had a tough time in her young career but everything was beginning to go her way. Her future was wide open and her past was behind her. A promising young life was cut short on a God-forsaken Afghani mountainside. There has to be a special place in heaven for those who die too young, while their eyes still gleam with excitement and their noses can still detect the “new car smell” of the helicopter they’re flying. There is no way to replace our eager youth, for they were the seeds of hope for a better world. Now there’s one less person to leave it to. For that I am particularly saddened. One more tragic death to add to the honored rolls of the dead…”
Trevor J. Boyko of Ramstein, Germany

“To the family and friends of 1st Lt. Tamara Archuleta:
May God’s grace be with you during your time of grief. Please know that our thoughts and prayers are with you and we feel your loss and share in your sorrow. Bless Tamara for the sacrifice she has made to make a better life for the rest of us.”
The Ford Family of Wells, Nevada

“To the family and friends of 1st Lt. Tamara Archuleta:
I am saddened by the loss of your loved one. She will always be remembered as a hero for fighting for freedom. I hope that this website will be a source of comfort and encouragement for you during this difficult time, and in the future as you recall the memories of Tamara, who continues to live on in your heart.”
Tim Rivera of Powder Springs, Georgia

HH-60G #97-26778
23 March 2003

HH-60G #97-26778 (Call sign “Komodo 11) of the 347th RW, 41st RQS, crewed by Lt. Col. John Stein (P), Capt. Tamara L. Archuleta (CP), SSgt. Jason Hicks (FE), MSgt. Michael Maltz (PJ), SSgt. John Teal (AG) and Sr. Amn. Jason Plite (PJ) crashed while on a medical evacuation mission in Afghanistan. The helicopter was doing a night low level air refueling when is disconnected and impacted the terrain. Six crewmembers were fatally injured and the helicopter was destroyed.


Posted: Tuesday, December 6, 2005 2:19 am – Updated: 2:30 am, Fri Sep 12, 2014.

MOODY AIR FORCE BASE — The primary cause of a helicopter crash that killed six Moody Air Force Base airmen in Afghanistan remains undetermined, according to an Air Force accident report.

Brig. Gen. Gregory Power, vice commander, Headquarters 8th Air Force, Barksdale AFB, LA., released the findings of the report Thursday at Moody.

Power served as Accident Investigation Board president in determining why the HH-60G crashed on March 23.

Killed in the crash were Lt. Col. John Stein, 1st Lt. Tamara Archuleta, Staff Sgt. John Teal, Staff Sgt. Jason Hicks, all of the 48th Rescue Squadron; and Master Sgt. Michael Maltz and Senior Airman Jason Plite, both with the 38th Rescue Squadron. Power praised them as heroes.

“They served their country with honor and were dedicated to winning the global war against terrorism,” Power said. “I would like to give my heartfelt condolences to the families and friends of these great airmen, and I hope that no one will forget the sacrifice they made so that others might live.”

The accident occurred during the inflight refueling of the HH-60G that was enroute to an urgent medical evacuation for two children. During the refueling, the helicopter disconnected from the HC-130P aircraft that was refueling it and hit the ground a few seconds later, where it was destroyed.

From an analysis of the helicopter and coroner’s report, the board is convinced that the crew died instantly with the impact of the crash.
“The reason we know that they died instantly — because there was no indication on any of the crew members of inhaling any of the fuel fumes or things of that nature after the impact,” Powers said.

The report indicates three factors contributed to the accident.

The HC-130P was flying at an altitude of 350 feet above ground level, which was 150 feet below the required altitude of 500 feet, Powers said.

Second, the illumination reduced the effectiveness of the night vision goggles the crews were wearing, which caused spatial disorientation and loss of situational awareness.

The third factor was the terrain’s high altitude was at 9,000 feet above sea level. That, combined with a climbing 30-degree bank turn during refueling, made it difficult for the helicopter to maintain its refueling position, Power said.

Also, the autopsy performed on Stein found that the main artery to the aircraft commander’s heart had a 95-percent blockage. “The board could not determine whether he possibly was having chest pains or an irregular heart beat or possibly even a heart attack,” Power said. “The autopsy was able to just determine there was this blockage.”

The annual flight physical last fall on Stein, 39, didn’t show any alarming signals that the medical community is trained to look for. His blood pressure and cholesterol level were normal, and he had passed his annual bicycle test, which monitors the heart.

Although there are accidents involving aircraft in the Air Force, Power wasn’t aware of any similar accidents involving helicopters during refueling operations such as the one that took the lives of the six Moody airmen.

During the past few days, Power and another member of the investigation board led teams that informed the families of the deceased airmen of the board’s findings. In virtually all the cases, the families were very understanding, Power said.

The hope is that knowing details will help in the grieving process. The families know their loved ones died as heroes trying to perform and important mission.

“We’ll always remember them with that in mind,” Power said. “They were flying a risky mission that search and rescue happens to be and do in all conditions, and we’re thankful that we have people like that.

Integrity, Honor, and Respect
Some of the best things cannot be bought, they must be earned

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