Black Hawk helicopter crash claims lives of nine military members, rescue squad talks recovery efforts

Former Army specialist talks black hawk helicopters and their functions

TRIGG, Co. Ky. (WTVQ) — Five service members were in one helicopter and four were in the other conducting a multi-shift formation under night vision goggles when the helicopter crash occurred. All service members were based at Fort Campbell.

John Hughes who lives near the crash site spoke to ABC, “we heard a loud boom and uh, uh, just all of a sudden the engines quit and, uh, everything was quiet. So, uh, we, we said, uh, to each other, I think they’ve crashed.”
Governor Andy Beshear traveling to Fort Campbell on Thursday, “we’re going to wrap our arms around these families and we’re going to be there with them, not just for the days, but the weeks and the months and the years to come.”
Several agencies responded to the crash Wednesday night around 10 to help with recovery efforts including the Marshall County Rescue Squad which is made up entirely of volunteers.

“We actually have, uh, what we call a airplane locator. So if a, if a airplane goes down or a helicopter or something, we have a device that helps us locate, uh, down aircraft. Uh, so we use that as an electronic device and those things give off pings. Now, obviously last night we didn’t need that, We also have canine dogs that we use, uh, that can go out and search for people. And uh, that was one of the things we used last night,” said Kenny Pratt, the chief of the Marshall County Rescue Squad.

Deputy Commander Brigadier General John Lubas spoke on their types of missions, “this was a training progression and specifically they were flying a multi ship formation, two ships under night vision goggles at night. There’s a pilot, a co-pilot, a crew chief, and then often you’ll have medics or other personnel, uh, on the aircraft as well.”

“When we do any training, but especially aviation training, they do very, very detailed planning, very detailed rehearsals, depending on the risk of the operation they’re doing, has different levels of approval from the command. The Army has deployed an aircraft safety team from Fort Rucker, Alabama, who arrive later today and will immediately initiate an investigation to help us understand what caused this crash in order to prevent accidents like this from happening again,” he adds.

Our ABC affiliate in Central North Carolina confirming the identity of one of the service members as Caleb Gore of North Carolina.

The Army has averaged five deaths per year in on-duty aviation mishaps since 2018, that’s according to the US Army Combat Readiness Center.

ABC 36 also spoke to a former Army Specialist who spoke on his time serving in the 82nd Airborne Division.

Former E4 specialist Dee Birkes was a paratrooper, and says missions with the 101st, were very similar.
Birkes says he was involved in training missions with black hawk helicopters.
He says the Army is very comfortable using black hawks because of how convenient and how safe they are.
Typically,  black hawk can transport an 11-person infantry squad, and it includes an integrated medevac mission equipment package kit.


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