May 22, 2015

Nebraska native confirmed dead in Nepal copter crash

UH1 HueyFamily members of a south central Nebraska native who was on a Marine helicopter that went down while on an earthquake relief mission in Nepal last week have confirmed the man’s death.

Keith Lukasiewicz, the father of Captain Dustin Lukasiewicz, said his family was officially notified of Dustin’s death on Saturday.

The Wilcox native was on a Huey helicopter with five other Marines and two Nepalese soldiers when the chopper went down.

Saturday all eight bodies were found.

The helicopter disappeared Tuesday while delivering aid to victims of the second earthquake to hit Nepal in less than a month.

By Brandon Peoples, KHAS, Hastings 

Nebraska Marine was on board missing helicopter in Nepal

Stock photo of UH-1 Huey

File photo of UH-1 Huey

There’s a Nebraska tie to that U.S. military helicopter that was reported missing Tuesday while delivering relief supplies to earthquake survivors in Nepal.

Eight people were aboard, including six Marines, one of whom is from south central Nebraska.

Sources have confirmed that Marine Dustin Lukasiewicz of Wilcox was among those on the helicopter, a UH-1 Huey.

The search for the chopper is still underway.

So far, more than 125 people have died from Nepal’s second major earthquake in less than a month with more than 2,500 reported as being injured. The country was rocked by a magnitude 7.3 quake on Tuesday.

A quake less than three weeks ago killed more than 8,000.

By Brent Wiethorn, KKPR, Kearney


Nebraska military dad surprises daughter with return from duty

FlagThursday was a day to remember for a young Kearney girl who hadn’t seen her father since he left in July for his second tour of military duty.

Bailey Stover, a second grader at Meadowlark Elementary School was quite surprised when her dad showed up during a school assembly.

J.J. Stover had been serving in Afghanistan and Iraq, but made a return visit to Kearney on Thursday.

Meadowlark Elementary second graders were told they were having a special presentation on butterflies and moths.

Bailey was in the front row when her dad walked into the classroom and surprised her. To no one’s surprise, she was overjoyed at seeing her father for the first time in several months.

Everyone in the room stood and cheered while welcoming J.J. back home.

By Brent Wiethorn, KKPR, Kearney


Public encouraged to give Hero Flight of veterans a good send-off

Korean War MemorialVeterans of the Korean War from five Nebraska counties will be taking a chartered jet to the nation’s capitol next week to see the monument built to honor their service.

Sherry Morrow, coordinator for the Buffalo County Hero Flight, says groups and individuals are raising money to make the trip possible.

“We have done the World War II flights and finished those up several years ago with guys that could go,” Morrow says. “Last year, we started the Korean flights. Of course, since it’s Korean vets, we go to the Korean Memorial and focus on that but then we go ahead and see a lot of the other memorials and things in Washington D.C.”

Morrow encourages everyone to don red, white and blue and wave an American flag on the day of the trip.

“The sendoff on the 22nd is open to the public,” Morrow says. “We’d love to have people come down and send these veterans off on their way with a big celebration at the American Legion Club here in Kearney. It’s at noon.”

The veterans on this flight will be from Adams, Custer, Furnas, Phelps and Sarpy counties.

By Brent Wiethorn, KKPR, Kearney


Sen. Sasse sees some positive signs in the Middle East (AUDIO)

Sen. Ben Sasse with the troops during this visit to the Middle East/Photo courtesy of Sen. Sasse's office

Sen. Ben Sasse with the troops during this visit to the Middle East/Photo courtesy of Sen. Sasse’s office

United States Senator Ben Sasse says he observed some positive signs during his eight-day trip to the Middle East with a Senate delegation.

Sasse made an official visit (CODEL) to Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Afghanistan, and Iraq.

During the CODEL, Sasse met with U.S. troops, military officials and political leaders to discuss political, economic and security issues-including threats from both the Islamic State (also known as ISIS or ISIL) and Iranian influence in the region.

Sasse says he had a chance to speak frankly with military personnel, some of whom were from Nebraska.

“There’s cautious optimism from the U.S. troops,” Sasse tells Nebraska Radio Network in a telephone interview. “They think real progress has been made over the last six months or so in both Iraq and Afghanistan.”

Only approximately 9,800 American troops remain in Afghanistan in a role to train, advise, and assist Afghan troops.

Sasse credits President Barack Obama for backing off of his time table to bring home the troops.

“The Afghan military is doing a better job, but they need the advice and counsel of the American war fighters,” according to Sasse. “So, there’s optimism in Afghanistan right now, because the president has pulled back a little bit on his draw-down plans.”

Sasse says the American military faces two terrorist factions in the Middle East. Sunni jihadists, according to Sasse, seek launching sites for terrorist activities around the globe. Iraqi Shia militia, funded by Iran, also pose a threat to stability in the Middle East.

In addition to visiting with troops, the group met with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, Israeli President Rivlin, Jordanian King Abdullah, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, Iraqi President Masum, Afghan President Ghani, Afghan Chief Executive Officer Abdullah Abdullah, and Kurdistan Region President Masoud Barzani.

AUDIO:  Brent Martin reports [:40]