The helicopter was conducting "aerial refueling training" over the Mediterranean sea when the crash happened, the Department of Defense said Monday
Five members of the U.S. armed forces were killed in a helicopter crash over Veterans Day weekend.
The crash happened during “routine flight training” in the Mediterranean Sea on Friday, according to a press release from the Department of Defense on Monday.
“The MH-60 Blackhawk was conducting aerial refueling training when the aircraft experienced an in-flight emergency resulting in the crash,” the release stated.
“There are no indications the crash was caused by enemy / hostile actions,” the release added. “The U.S. Army's Combat Readiness Center is conducting an investigation into the incident.”
In a statement shared Sunday, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III called the “training accident” a “tragic loss.”
“While we continue to gather more information about this deadly crash, it is another stark reminder that the brave men and women who defend our great nation put their lives on the line each and every day to keep our country safe,” Austin said. “They represent the best of America. We will remember their service and their sacrifice.”
“My prayers are with the patriots we have lost today and their families, loved ones and teammates,” he added.
The five special operations aviation soldiers were later identified by the DOD as Chief Warrant Officers Stephen R. Dwyer, 38, and Shane M. Barnes, 34, Staff Sgt. Tanner W. Grone, 26, and Sgts. Andrew P. Southard, 27, and Cade M. Wolfe, 24.
Per a U.S. official, as reported by ABC News, the helicopter went down near Cyprus. According to the official, the service members were recently sent to the area to be in place if needed to help evacuate U.S. citizens from the region amid the war between Israel and Hamas.
“Our service members put their lives on the line for our country every day. They willingly take risks to keep the American people safe and secure. And their daily bravery and selflessness is an enduring testament to what is best in our nation,” the statement noted.
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“Jill and I are praying for the families and friends who have lost a precious loved one — a piece of their soul," the statement continued. "Our entire nation shares their grief. And, during this weekend when we pause to honor our nation’s veterans, we once more affirm the sacred obligation we bear to those who volunteer to serve our nation as well as their families, caregivers and survivors. We pray for the families of all our fallen warriors today and every day.”
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