Army identifies nine soldiers killed in helicopter collision
On Friday, U.S. Army officials identified the nine soldiers killed in a helicopter crash when two helicopters collided flying out of Fort Campbell in Kentucky on Wednesday.
All nine people on the Black Hawk helicopters died in the accident, which occurred during a routine training mission. The soldiers were all assigned to the 101st Combat Aviation Brigade, and their ages ranged from 23 to 36.
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“Now is the time for grieving and healing,” Maj. Gen. J.P. McGee, the commanding general of the installation and of the Army’s 101st Airborne Division, said in a statement. “The whole division and this community stand behind the families and friends of our fallen soldiers.”
McGee added that the losses will “reverberate through our formations for years to come.”
The nine soldiers killed were identified as Warrant Officer 1 Jeffery Barnes, 33; Cpl. Emilie Marie Eve Bolanos, 23; Chief Warrant Officer 2 Zachary Esparza, 36; Sgt. Isaac J. Gayo, 27; Staff Sgt. Joshua C. Gore, 25; Warrant Officer 1 Aaron Healy, 32; Staff Sgt. Taylor Mitchell, 30; Chief Warrant Officer 2 Rusten Smith, 32; and 23-year-old Sgt. David Solinas Jr.
1/3 “This is a time of great sadness for the 101st Airborne Division. The loss of these Soldiers will reverberate through our formations for years to come,” said Maj. Gen. JP McGee, commanding general of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) and Fort Campbell.“ pic.twitter.com/XF9pzEZ5XU
— 101st Airborne Div. (@101stAASLTDIV) March 31, 2023
Brig. Gen. John Lubas, the 101st Airborne Division deputy commander, said the teams were training to fly in aircraft formations with night vision goggles. Four helicopters were involved in the training, but one was refueling at the time, and another was too far ahead of the other two to be affected by the crash.
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No specific cause of the crash has been identified. An Army aviation team from Fort Rucker, Alabama, is leading the investigation.
The incident is the deadliest aviation training accident since 2015, when 11 service members were killed in a Black Hawk crash off the coast of Florida.