Army reveals identities of nine soldiers killed in Kentucky helicopter crash

FILE – A U.S. Black Hawk helicopter takes off after deploying soldiers during the Swift Response 22 military exercise at the Krivolak army training polygon in the central part of North Macedonia, May 12, 2022. Two U.S. Army Black Hawk medical evacuation helicopters crashed during training Wednesday night, March 29, 2023, in Kentucky, killing nine soldiers. (AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski, File)

The Army on Friday revealed the identities of the nine soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division who were killed in a helicopter crash near Fort Campbell, Ky., earlier this week.

The soldiers, who ranged from 23 to 36 years of age, died after two Black Hawk helicopters crashed late Wednesday while conducting a night training exercise.

The victims included Warrant Officer 1 Jeffery Barnes, Cpl. Emilie Marie Eve Bolanos, Chief Warrant Officer 2 Zachary Esparza, Sgt. Isaacjohn Gayo, Staff Sgt. Joshua C. Gore, Warrant Officer 1 Aaron Healy, Staff Sgt. Taylor Mitchell, Chief Warrant Officer 2 Rusten Smith and Sgt. David Solinas Jr.

“This is a time of great sadness for the 101st Airborne Division,” Maj. Gen. J.P. McGee, commanding general of the 101st Airborne Division and Fort Campbell, said in a statement. “The loss of these Soldiers will reverberate through our formations for years to come.” 

“Now is the time for grieving and healing,” he added. “The whole division and this community stand behind the families and friends of our fallen Soldiers.”

An aircraft safety team from Fort Rucker, Ala., has been sent to Kentucky to investigate the crash, which is the military’s deadliest training accident in nearly three years, according to the Washington Post.

The crash is also the second such deadly incident involving a Black Hawk in a month, with a helicopter crashing along an Alabama highway during a training exercise in February, killing two Tennessee National Guard pilots.  

“Anytime there’s an accident it is incredibly unfortunate and something we take incredibly seriously,” Pentagon press secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder told reporters after the incident. “Unfortunately, a lot of what we do is inherently dangerous.”

“This is something that we’re always going to constantly be working at,” he said.

Tags Army helicopter crash Pat Ryder

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