Luca Harbeson, left, and his sister Alexandra unveil a plaque  to remember their father, Chief Warrant Officer 2 James R. Harbeson, a helicopter pilot who died in a 1990 helicopter crash.
Luca Harbeson, left, and his sister Alexandra unveil a plaque to remember their father, Chief Warrant Officer 2 James R. Harbeson, a helicopter pilot who died in a 1990 helicopter crash. (Photo Credit: Scavetta, Lea (USAG Italy Public Affairs Volunteer)) VIEW ORIGINAL

VICENZA, Italy – U.S. Army Garrison Italy community members gathered June 30 at Child Development Center to remember Chief Warrant Officer 2 James R. Harbeson, a helicopter pilot who lost his life in a 1990 helicopter crash in the Aegean Sea near Greece.

The building, at the Villaggio housing area, was dedicated in Harbeson’s honor, during a ceremony led by Col. Dan Vogel, USAG Italy’s commander.

“This plaque will remind all who pass through these doors of Chief Harbeson’s commitment, dedication to duty and selfless service,” Vogel said. “We will not forget how he made the ultimate sacrifice and we honor his memory.”

After the plaque unveiling Chief Warrant Officer 2 James R. Harbeson’s family released red balloons in his honor. Harbeson was not just a Soldier, he was a husband, father and now a grandfather,
After the plaque unveiling Chief Warrant Officer 2 James R. Harbeson’s family released red balloons in his honor. Harbeson was not just a Soldier, he was a husband, father and now a grandfather, (Photo Credit: Scavetta, Lea (USAG Italy Public Affairs Volunteer)) VIEW ORIGINAL

After the plaque unveiling Harbeson’s family released red balloons in his honor. Harbeson was not just a Soldier, he was a husband, father and now a grandfather, Vogel said.

“We commemorate the sacrifice of his family. His wife, Lucia, his son Luca – who is our Child & Youth Services Coordinator, Luca’s wife Nicolette and their two boys, Canaan and Liam. And Chief Harbeson’s daughter, Alexandra, and her two children,” Vogel said.

Chief Warrant Officer 2 James R. Harbeson
Chief Warrant Officer 2 James R. Harbeson (Photo Credit: contributed ) VIEW ORIGINAL

Born in 1952, Harbeson’s home of record was Orangeburg, South Carolina, but he called Vicenza home.

A pilot, Harbeson served in Southern European Task Force Detachment 6, an aviation unit that flew from Dal Molin airfield, now the site of Caserma Del Din. On Nov. 7, 1990, Harbseon was at the controls of a UH-1 Huey helicopter heading to Greece. He and his crew, Chief Warrant Officer 2 Manuel Gomez and Sergeant Michael Chandler, were on their way to relieve another crew from their detachment. A malfunction forced them to land at Othoni, near Corfu, for maintenance.

They took off 45 minutes later. At 6:20 p.m., the helicopter vanished from radar.

Chief Warrant Officer 2 James R. Harbeson, a helicopter pilot who lost his life in a 1990 helicopter crash in the Aegean Sea near Greece.
Chief Warrant Officer 2 James R. Harbeson, a helicopter pilot who lost his life in a 1990 helicopter crash in the Aegean Sea near Greece. (Photo Credit: Contributed ) VIEW ORIGINAL

Luca Harbeson was just 11 when the Army told his family that his father was missing in action. A month passed before the Army found the crashed helicopter and recovered the crew. James Harbeson was laid to rest in Arlington Cemetery.

“He loved to fly, he loved his country and he loved his family. Those are the three important aspects of his life,” Luca Harbeson said. “I wish that he could be here with us. But, I’m glad that he’s not forgotten, his story is not forgotten and his service to our country is not forgotten.”

Chief Warrant Officer 2 James R. Harbeson
Chief Warrant Officer 2 James R. Harbeson (Photo Credit: Contributed) VIEW ORIGINAL

Survivor Outreach Services at Army Community Service is dedicated to paying tribute to fallen service members and caring for the family members they left behind, said Jolly Miller, USAG Itay’s ACS director. Many survivors supported locally are Italian-born spouses and family members, she said.

Mariangiola Miller, USAG Italy’s ACS director, and Col. Dan Vogel, USAG Italy's commander, lead a June 30, 2021 ceremony to honor the life of Chief Warrant Officer 2 James R. Harbeson and dedicate the Child Development Center in his memory.
Mariangiola Miller, USAG Italy’s ACS director, and Col. Dan Vogel, USAG Italy's commander, lead a June 30, 2021 ceremony to honor the life of Chief Warrant Officer 2 James R. Harbeson and dedicate the Child Development Center in his memory. (Photo Credit: Tre'Vani Bradshaw (USAG Italy Public Affairs Office)) VIEW ORIGINAL

“We are here to support them. It’s our duty to be here for them as long as they desire,” said Miller, adding that Harbeson’s children and grandchildren’s presence keeps his memory alive. “It’s the continuum of life.”