By Geneva Sands-Sadowitz - 02/21/12 01:24 PM EST
Four U.S. airmen died Saturday in a plane crash near a military base in Djibouti, a small country in the Horn of Africa, the Defense Department said.
The reconnaissance plane was returning from a mission supporting the war in Afghanistan when it crashed only six miles from Camp Lemonnier, the only U.S. military base on the continent.
“The cause of the accident is under investigation,” the statement added, but hostile fire is not suspected in the crash.
Spc. Ryan Whitney of the 1st Special Operations Wing said the U-28 plane was conducting an intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance mission, reported The Associated Press.
The four airmen killed were: Capt. Ryan P. Hall, 30, of Colorado Springs, Colo.; Capt. Nicholas S. Whitlock, 29, of Newnan, Ga.; 1st Lt. Justin J. Wilkens, 26, of Bend, Ore.; and Senior Airman Julian S. Scholten, 26, of Upper Marlboro, Md. Hall, Whitlock and Wilkens were assigned to the 34th Special Operations Squadron, and Scholten was assigned to the 25th Intelligence Squadron, all based in Hurlburt Field, Fla.