In Memory

Richard A. Kubal

Richard A. Kubal

Kubal Hall at Whidbey Island Naval Air Station, Washington.


Chuck Luttrell with Rick Kubal's parents Pat and Harold at the dedication of Kubal Hall at Whidbey Island Naval Air Station,Washington, August 2006.



Rick Kubal bas relief plaque

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07/31/08 07:01 PM #1    

Patrick J. Rogers

Richard(Rick)died in a helicopter crash while serving with a search and rescue crew out of Whidbey Island Navel Air Station. Strangly enough the date was Sept. 11 1980. He was sent to save a stranded hicker in the Cascades when he and several of his mates lost their lives. He was a true HERO.

12/07/08 12:16 AM #2    

Chuck Luttrell

First and foremost, a heartfelt thank you to the person who posted the Tribune article. I have written three articles about Rick, his love of life and as my friend and mentor. All three were published locally in Washington state, but the Minneapolis papers did not pick them up.

The night before Rick was killed, we had just moved into our apartment and out of the Navy barracks. We had all of our worldly goods with us: our cars and two suit cases. Both of us were having the time of our lives though with him flying as a rescue swimmer in a helicopter search and rescue team and me as an aircraft mechanic traveling all over the U.S. Things were going so well in his job that just a few months earlier he had been featured in the Everett Herald newspaper for saving the lives of two people trapped on a raging river. On Thursday Sept 11, 1980 I was working the night shift and saw him about two hours before he went to have dinner at his girl friend's house. It was his duty day and he was on a 24 hour alert requiring him to be by a phone and ours had not been connected yet. He received a call at 4:30 to launch and rescue an injured hiker who was stranded on a mountain peak just east of Mt Baker, WA. The Whatcom County Sheriff's Dept felt the injured hiker would not survive the night if not picked up due to the predicted snow and high winds that evening. When I arrived home from work Thursday night, I assumed Rick was asleep and I went to bed quietly so I wouldn't wake him. When I got out of bed the next morning, he was not home and I thought he had left for work. After breakfast I decided to visit my girl friend and about 10 minutes after arriving at her house, I received a call from Rick's girl friend. She said he did not return last night and wondered if I had heard anything from him because he did not call after his flight. I called Rick's office and they would not talk to me. When I went in to his office on Friday morning, the only word they had was the helicopter he was in did not return but there were reports of an active emergency locator beacon. At about 11:00 a.m. we received word two hikers stumbled across the wreckage of a helicopter and there were 3 people dead. It was Sunday before the weather had cleared enough for a recovery team to get into the crash site by helicopter. Rick was located over 400 feet lower in elevation than the main cabin of the helicopter. There were two survivors of the crew who told the story of the daring rescue in a violent early winter storm. The winds and snow trapped the helicopter between two vertical peaks and bounced them off the mountain, tearing the helicopter in two. Rick had been killed instantly while trying to save two stranded mountain hikers.

Rick and I always talked about his flying and how much fun he was having at work. I had known Rick since second grade and his family treated me like their own child. I remember one weekend I spent at his grandparents and started talking to his grandfather. He had multiple medical problems and lived in pain but ALWAYS had a smile on his face. I asked him how he dealt with it. He turned around and pointed to a placard on the wall behind him. It had an old Indian sitting next to a fire and simply stated "Never regret growing old, tis' a privilige denied to many." After Rick's death I understood why Grandpa Gray had that placard up and pledged to take advantage of every moment I had here on earth. Today, Rick's grandmother of 94 still has that up on the wall in her house.

My thoughts and prayers go to all of our classmates whose lives were tragically cut short. I remember each one of them and feel very fortunate to have had them touch my life. Chuck Luttrell

03/25/09 08:02 PM #3    

Kathy Supalo (Whalen)

Thank You, for your intelligence, bravery, curiosity for doing what you have done, and will do for your country. May you always know it was the courage you possess for the freedom you have preserved. Your 11th grade classmate in Social Studies kw

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