Army officials on Friday identified the nine soldiers lost this week when two HH-60 Black Hawk helicopters flying out of Kentucky’s Fort Campbell crashed, killing everyone on board.
In a statement, Maj. Gen. J.P. McGee, the commanding general of the installation and of the Army’s 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), said the deaths of the service members “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.”
The crash occurred just before 10 p.m. on March 29 during a routine training mission. All of the deceased were assigned to the division’s 101st Combat Aviation Brigade.
Officials identified the nine soldiers killed as:
- Warrant Officer 1 Jeffery Barnes, 33, of Milton, Fla.;
- Cpl. Emilie Marie Eve Bolanos, 23, of Austin, Texas;
- Chief Warrant Officer 2 Zachary Esparza, 36, of Jackson, Mo;
- Sgt. Isaac J. Gayo, 27, of Los Angeles, Calif.;
- Staff Sgt. Joshua C. Gore, 25, of Morehead City, N.C.;
- Warrant Officer 1 Aaron Healy, 32, of Cape Coral, Fla.;
- Staff Sgt. Taylor Mitchell, 30, of Mountain Brook, Ala.;
- Chief Warrant Officer 2 Rusten Smith, 32, of Rolla, Mo.;
- and Sgt. David Solinas Jr, 23, of Oradell, N.J.
Service officials still have not released specific information on the cause of the crash. An Army aviation safety team from Fort Rucker, Ala. is currently conducting an investigation into the accident.
101st Airborne Division officials posted photos of the fallen soldiers on their Twitter account on Friday.
Brig. Gen. John Lubas, the 101st Airborne Division deputy commander, said in a press conference on March 30 that the two crews were training on flying aircraft formations with night-vision goggles. The aircraft landed in an open field near a residential neighborhood in a county near the Army installation.
Leo covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He has covered Washington, D.C. since 2004, focusing on military personnel and veterans policies. His work has earned numerous honors, including a 2009 Polk award, a 2010 National Headliner Award, the IAVA Leadership in Journalism award and the VFW News Media award.