Friday, August 8, 2008

San Marcos graduate killed in helicopter crash


James N. Ramage, one of nine firefighters killed in a helicopter crash near Shasta-Trinity National Forest last Tuesday, was a 1963 graduate of San Marcos High School, U.S. Forest Service officials announced yesterday.
Ramage, 63, was also California’s first firefighting helicopter pilot. State fire officials said he wore badge No. 1.

Born in Taft, Calif., Ramage lived primarily in the Redding area and was employed by CAL Fire until retiring in 2003. However, it only took Ramage 11 days of retirement to realize he wanted to continue fighting fire from the air. A Forest Service spokesperson said Ramage was quickly hired as a Forest Service helicopter inspector pilot, the position he held up until his death. He was based out of McClellan, Calif.
Ramage’s aviation career began as a helicopter pilot for the U.S. Army from 1966 through 1970. He served one tour in Vietnam. Prior to being hired by the state, Ramage flew for private firms.
Ramage is survived by his wife of 38 years, Diane, and his 28-year-old daughter Ginger.

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