It's a day that South Dakotans will never forget.

In some ways, it's hard to believe it happened 30 years ago.

South Dakota Governor George Mickelson and seven others were killed in an airplane crash near Dubuque, Iowa shortly before 4:00 P.M. on April 19, 1993.

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I had first met the Governor before he was Governor. In the early 1980's I was living in Brookings and was doing play-by-play for Sioux Valley High School, South Dakota State University, and Brookings High School.

George's daughter played on the Brookings High School girls basketball team, and often after games we would visit, while I was packing up my radio equipment and he was waiting for his daughter. I wouldn't say we became good friends, but we did become well acquainted. We'd talk about the game, other sports, the weather, and whatever else may be going on in the state.

Later, in the last half of the 1980s when I was working on the air in radio in Rapid City, Governor Mickelson would come on the air on our Morning Show whenever he was in Rapid City. It was pretty cool when he'd walk in and say "Hi, Randy" and I'd give him a "Hi, George" back. It was always a great conversation. Yes, more of a conversation than an interview. This was back in the day when talking issues and politics were civil. When people could actually disagree and remain not only civil but friendly.

Personally, I thought, and still do, that George was one of the best Governors South Dakota has had, at least in the nearly half-century I've lived in the state. Yes, I may be biased because I knew the Governor as a friend.

And then the unbelievable happened.

The Governor and the others were on a business trip to Ohio and returning when the accident happened. The Governor along with David Birkeland, Angus Anson, Roger Hainje, Roland Dolly, Ron Reed, and the two-state pilots Ron Becker and David Hanson were killed.

USA Today Contributed To This Article 

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