Iowa State Memorial Union

Deric Rasmussen - Chief Warrant Officer

Rank: Chief Warrant Officer
Date Of Birth: : Nov 2, 1980
Date Of Death: May 11, 2014
War / Conflict: Afghanistan
Hometown: Lincoln, Nebraska

Biography

Chief Warrant Officer Deric Rasmussen was born to Diane and Phil Rasmussen on November 2, 1980 in Lincoln, Nebraska. He was instructed by his family not to arrive on a Huskers game day and obliged accordingly, which in retrospect, may have indicated that he would eventually do well falling in line in the military.

Deric was the younger of two children. His sister Jenny was only 15 months older, so growing up the two were inseparable. Diane fondly remembers pulling the two children home from the store in their red wagon, with just enough room for one brown bag of groceries between them.

The Rasmussen family moved to Storm Lake, Iowa in 1982, and enjoyed summers in the sun. Imagine a chubby toddler with red hair bleached blond by the sun, freckles across his nose and a slight but perpetual sunburn - that’s how Diane remembers young Deric.

Deric’s love of “things that go” developed early. As a first grader in Tiger Cubs, Deric and his friend Cory discovered electric train sets. Several birthday and Christmas presents later, the Rasmussen basement had been taken over by an entire train set village laid out on a huge plywood board. The set-up provided hours of entertainment for Deric and his friends until it was warm enough to get outside. The cul-da-sac the Rasmussens lived on was Deric’s runway, where he liked to experiment on windy days with sails made from Diane’s sheets. One time he and a friend held the sheet between them as they raced down the street on roller blades. Another time, Deric enlisted the help of the family cocker spaniel, Abby, to pull him down the street on his skateboard as his “sail” billowed behind him. Even at a young age, Deric loved to feel the wind on his face.

Fast forward a few years to middle school when radio controlled airplane parts replaced electric trains as the birthday gift of choice for Deric. These planes took years and several hundred dollars’ worth of parts to build, but Deric loved every minute of it. Little did he realize this hobby was the root of his passion for aviation that would eventually shape his career. A few years later, Deric won a free airplane ride and began volunteering with the local Civil Air Patrol. He’d help park cars and run events, and was very proud to wear the fatigues and military hat he was issued.

In high school, the previously shy Deric blossomed into a performer. He loved playing baritone in the jazz, pep and marching bands, and he flourished in large and individual speech contests and drama performances. In one memorable improvisational speech, Deric reveled in the joy of his first, but certainly not last, public well-timed punch line. His description of the life of the lonely french fry that had fallen into a pocket had the crowd rolling in laughter.

Deric brought that charisma to Iowa State in the fall of ’99, where he met his roommate, Adam Straw. Adam and Deric became life-long friends. This friendship lasted way beyond college. Adam and Deric were best men at each other’s weddings and planned a hiking trip this past summer once Deric returned from Afghanistan. In fact, their friendship bloomed over a shared love of hiking and backpacking discovered through the Outdoor Rec Services program at Iowa State. All it took was one hiking trip to Ouachita National Forest in Arkansas for backpacking supplies to become Deric’s new birthday and Christmas gift of choice, and that passion lasted the rest of Deric’s life.

After Deric’s time at Iowa State, he earned a carpentry certificate from Iowa Central Community College in Ft. Dodge, Iowa in 2001. He spent a few years working in Ames and spending time with his friends and family before eventually deciding to join the U.S. Marine Corps.

Deric enlisted in January 2003 and initially served in Marine Corps signals intelligence. He served at Fort Meade, Maryland and Camp Pendleton, California and was deployed to Iraq in 2007, Jordan in 2008, and was assigned to an anti-piracy mission aboard the U.S.S. Boxer in 2009. This was one of the ships supporting the rescue of Captain Phillips and his crew after their ship was taken hostage by Somali pirates.

While Deric was passionate about serving his country, he also made sure he was supporting and helping his family back home. His mother recalls a time when he talked her through replacing a shower step-by-step over the phone, and another time when his enthusiastic love for running inspired her to learn to run. Deric was always encouraging and very in tune with people.  

In 2011, Deric pursued his lifelong dream to become a pilot, transferring services to the U.S. Army.  Deric earned his wings in 2012 following training at Ft. Rucker, Alabama, and was assigned to the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade as a member of a MEDEVAC unit in Fort Hood, Texas. Their deployment to northern Afghanistan commenced in October of 2013.

Deric truly found his calling as a pilot. He would often call home with vivid descriptions of flights over beautiful landscapes of mountains and cliffs, and you could hear the passion in his voice as he talked about what he loved to do.

Deric Rasmussen died May 11, 2014 in a non-combat incident while serving his country as a UH-60 Blackhawk pilot, for the U.S. Army during their deployment to Mazar-e-Sharif, Afghanistan. At the time of Deric’s death, he was 49 days away from returning home.

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