USAFE Fallen Airman
Killed in Action/Wounded in Action FlagFolded US Flag
Staff Sergeant Randy Jay Hulec

Staff Sergeant Randy Jay Hulec

weather_basic badge
Stationed: Ramstein Air Base, Germany
Unit Assigned: 31st Weather Squadron
Date Fell: Wednesday, August 29th, 1990
Ramstein C-5 Crash

Photo of the crashed C-5 looking between the wing root and the troop compartment

Purple Heart Medal

SSgt Rande J. Hulec, age 29, meteorologist, died in a plane crash just outside of Ramstein Air Base, Germany.

He was born on July 20th, 1961 and is from Cleveland, Ohio. He joined the Air Force when he was 20.

In the early morning hours of August 29th, 1990, a C-5 Galaxy transport took off from Ramstein Air Base in Germany in support of Operation DESERT SHIELD. It was flown by a volunteer Reserve crew from the 433rd Airlift Wing in Texas.

As the aircraft started to climb off the runway, one of the reverse thrusters suddenly engaged. This caused the aircrew of the C-5 to lose control. The aircraft nosed over, one of it's wings plowed through the woodline just beyond the base perimeter and crashed in a field beyond.

Of the 17 people onboard, only 4 survived the crash. All four were in the rear troop compartment.

Taken from a local newspaper:

Air Force Sgt. Randy Hulec telephoned his parents from West Germany with exciting news: He was headed for the Middle Easy. And he was sky high.

"He called Sunday, and I asked him directly if he thought he would be going," said his father, Ron F. Hulec. "He said, 'No.' Then he called Monday and said he had his orders. He was going."

"He was up," said his mother, Joanne. "He said: 'I'm only going to forecasting the weather. Just think, for every one of me, there are six Marines. Thank God for the Marines. If they do their job, I can do mine.'"

He boarded a Lockheed C-5A cargo jet late Tuesday. It carried a load of cargo and 17 military personnel, most of them reservists who had volunteered for duty in the Persian Gulf and were manning the aircraft. The plane was to land about 90 miles away at Rhein-Main air base in Frankfurt and then head to the Persian Gulf.

The plane, which could lift about 250,000 pounds, crashed shortly after takeoff in a field a quarter-mile from the base.

Officials said 13 were killed, including Hulec. Hulec apparently is the first Ohio casualty in the crisis that began when Iraq overran the tiny oil shiekdom of Kuwait, triggering a massive buildup of U.S. and other forces in Saudi Arabia.

Ron and Joanne Hulec heard about the crash on the radio. The mention of Ramstein commanded their attention.

Their son's death was confirmed on the phone by Air Force officials about 2:15 a.m.

Randy, who is also survived by his two older sisters, graduated from Cleveland Heights High School after transferring from there to Cathedral Latin School to play football in his junior year.

"He decided he didn't want to play football anymore and went back to Heights High," his father said. "He was a hell of an athlete. He just did a triathlon and was going to do a marathon next month. He was home in November and ran every day when he was here, even on snowy days."

He was on his second tour in Germany.

About five years ago, he married Hannelore and brought her to Cleveland two days after the wedding. His parents loved her. She mastered English, wound up working at Ramstein and for two consecutive years was voted the outstanding German employee.

Ron Hulec said is son is buried in a small cemetery near their home.