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Fighting terror

For Pinellas woman, knock meant the worst

© St. Petersburg Times
published March 25, 2003

KENNETH CITY -- Patricia Iverson was checking e-mails about 10 p.m. Sunday when she heard the ominous knock at her front door. Peering through the miniblinds, she realized her worst fears.

"I saw men in Air Force dress blues," said the 63-year-old Iverson.

As she opened the door, Iverson thought: "Oh, God, it can't be."

The men had arrived to inform Iverson that her son, Master Sgt. Michael Maltz, 42, of Valdosta, Ga., was aboard the U.S. Air Force helicopter that crashed Sunday in southeastern Afghanistan, killing all six people on board. The helicopter was on a mercy mission to help two injured Afghan children, the U.S. military said Monday.

The HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter from the 41st Rescue Squadron at Moody Air Force Base in Georgia was on its way late Sunday to pick up the children, who had suffered head injuries, said Army Col. Roger King. There were thunderstorms in the area, he said.

The Pentagon identified the other dead as 1st Lt. Tamara Archuleta, 23, of Los Lunas, N.M.; Staff Sgt. Jason Hicks, 25, of Jeffer son, S.C.; Senior Airman Jason Plite, 21, of Lansing, Mich.; Lt. Col. John Stein, 39, of Bardolph, Ill.; and Staff Sgt. John Teal, 29, of Dallas.

The helicopter crashed Sunday about 8:50 p.m., about 20 miles north of Ghazni, Afghanistan. Ghazni is 50 miles southwest of Kabul, the capital.

"We express the Afghan government's sorrow for this incident, which occurred during a humanitarian operation to reach some Afghan children in need of medical care," Afghan Foreign Ministry spokesman Omar Samad said.

The Air Force officials who told Iverson about her son's death stayed with her until her brother arrived to console her.

Maltz grew up in Long Island, N.Y., where he graduated from Hals Hollow High School, his mother said Monday night. On Aug. 8, 1978, he joined the U.S. Air Force, she said.

The 6-foot-3, 200-pound Maltz loved to sky dive, ski and climb mountains, Iverson said.

"Anything dangerous, I would say," she said. "He had no fear of anything. The only fear he had was of getting out of the Air Force. He never had a civilian job. He didn't know what he was going to do. He was fearful of not being able to get a job at 42."

Maltz talked of leaving the Air Force and being near his sons, Kyle, 16, and Cody, 12, who live with his former wife in Seattle, Iverson said. In fact, his mother said, his discharge was under way when Maltz called her to say he was coming down to Florida for a visit because he was being deployed.

He had visited her often in Florida, usually showing up with bouquets for his mother and late maternal grandmother.

"He said, 'I'm going to be over there for about six months and then I'll be out unless they send me home in a body bag.' I told think him to think positive."

Maltz will be buried at Long Island National Cemetery, his mother said.

In addition to his mother and sons, Maltz is survived by two brothers and a sister.

24-hour air patrols resume over New York

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. government has resumed 24-hour air patrols over New York City after law enforcement and intelligence agencies warned that the city was in special danger from terrorists during the war with Iraq, senior government officials told the New York Times.

The patrols, by Black Hawk helicopters and small, specially outfitted surveillance planes from the fleet of the Department of Homeland Security, began Monday without announcement, the officials said. The helicopters and surveillance jets are not armed but have radar and can call on fighter jets stationed nearby in an emergency.

The 24-hour patrols will be the first over New York City since early last year, when the Defense Department suspended the continuous air patrols over New York and Washington that had begun in the hours after the terror attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

Two months ago, round-the-clock air patrols were resumed in Washington, and officials said at the time that more air patrols could be expected in New York if the United States invaded Iraq.

Officials said the decision to resume the New York air patrols did not reflect specific intelligence warning of a threat to New York from al-Qaida or other terrorist groups.

The move comes a week after the Federal Aviation Administration tightened the restrictions on airspace over the city.

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