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U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Jesse Williams from Elkhart was killed Tuesday, Dec. 17, in Afghanistan.
Family of fallen Elkhart soldier travels to Delaware to receive body

Posted on Dec. 19, 2013 at 12:00 a.m. | Updated on Dec. 19, 2013 at 6:47 p.m.

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence offered words of praise for U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Jesse Lee Williams, the Elkhart man killed in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan.

Williams, on his third military deployment, was an “exemplary Hoosier soldier” and “an American hero,” Pence said in a statement Thursday, Dec. 19.

“It is with deep sadness that I learned of the passing of Staff Sgt. Jesse Lee Williams, a heroic Hoosier who fell this week in the midst of his third deployment defending our freedom in Afghanistan,” Pence said. “Jesse Lee Williams is an American hero whose service and sacrifice will never be forgotten by the people of this state and nation.”

Williams, born in Elkhart, was on a Black Hawk transport helicopter with five other soldiers that crashed in Afghanistan, according to his family. He died Tuesday.

A statement issued by the NATO international military coalition said the crash is under investigation and that there was no insurgent activity in the area at the time of the crash.

Williams' mother Debbie Bussard Passerallo on Wednesday called her son “one brave young man.”

Williams' family traveled to a military base in Dover, Del. where dignified transfers take place and deceased soldiers and their personal effects are returned to their loved ones, reports Elkhart Truth's news partner WNDU.

Billings Funeral Home said it will likely meet with Williams' family this weekend to plan the details. The exact date of the funeral remains unknown.