Dedicated to the Preservation of the
U.S. Air Force Helicopter History
Douglas Lee Eccleston, SSgt., USAF (Fallen)September 06, 1966 – December 07, 2001
ANACONDA — A 35-year-old Anaconda native who was an experienced Air Force “para-rescue” specialist was killed Friday during his first parachute-jumping mission.
Staff Sgt. Doug Eccleston died when his raft capsized after the rescue mission that saved the life of a critically ill crewman aboard a 600-ton super tanker, 200 miles southeast of Bermuda.
Eccleston was born in Butte in 1966 and grew up in Anaconda, his aunt, Rae Eccleston of Anaconda, said.
In 1976, the family moved to Midland, Texas, where his parents, David and Donna Hunt Eccleston, now reside. His mother is originally from Butte, his father from Anaconda.
In Midland, where Eccleston’s family and friends were gathered Monday, his father, David Eccleston, likened the airman’s duties with the 920th Rescue Group to those in a popular action movie.
“Did you ever see ‘The Perfect Storm?’ “The senior Eccleston asks. “The boys in the helicopter? That’s what Doug did.”
Lt. Col. Ken Warren, public affairs officer for the rescue group, said Eccleston’s indomitable attitude and “can do spirit” helped him succeed.
“He always had a very positive outlook,” he said. “He was a very, very giving kind of a person who would jump in and do whatever it took.”
A memorial service planned for today will be held on the beach in Satellite Beach, Fla., because of the airman’s love of the water, Warren said. Other services are scheduled in Texas.
David Eccleston said his son lived and died by the rescue group’s credo, “So that others may live,” he said.
920th Rescue WingDecember 8, 2015 ·
On December 7, 2001, SSgt Douglas L. Eccleston died while performing a rescue mission 1,000 miles off the coast of Florida. He was killed when his inflatable boat capsized while leaving the 600-foot supertanker Alam Belia, where he and his team treated a critically ill crewman.
His heroic actions resulted in successfully saving the life of the critically injured sailor. Doug was a member of the elite 308th Pararescue Team, assigned to the 920th Rescue Group at Patrick AFB, FL. Doug honorably served his country for 15 years. This service included military action in Panama (Operation Just Cause) and Operation Desert Storm. He is missed by all who knew him.
Team, as the holiday season approaches, I’d like for all of you to take a moment to reflect on the sacrifices you and your families have made over the last year as well as during deployments. As many of us are able to come home to our families and continue with life on a daily basis, there are those who don’t. Be thankful and live your life without regret as circumstances can drastically change without notice.
Let’s not forget!