5 US Army soldiers killed in Mediterranean helicopter crash identified

The five U.S. Army soldiers who died in a helicopter crash over the Mediterranean Sea were publicly identified Monday by the Pentagon.

All five victims were special operations soldiers. They were:

•Chief Warrant Officer 3 Stephen R. Dwyer, 38 of Clarksville, Tenn.

•Chief Warrant Officer 2 Shane M. Barnes, 34, of Sacramento, Calif.

•Staff Sgt. Tanner W. Grone, 26, of Gorham, N.H.

•Sgt. Andrew P. Southard, 27, of Apache Junction, Ariz.

•Sgt. Cade M. Wolfe, 24, of Mankato, Minn.

They were flying in an MH-60 Blackhawk helicopter late Friday night over the eastern Mediterranean when the aircraft had “an in-flight emergency,” according to the Department of Defense. The Blackhawk was part of an aerial refueling training mission, the Pentagon said.

The military has beefed up its presence in the eastern Mediterranean in response to the ongoing Israel-Hamas war. Special operations forces have been included in the build-up, but the Pentagon said Friday night’s incident was simply an accident.

“There are no indications the crash was caused by enemy/hostile actions,” read a Department of Defense statement.

Army aviation special operations forces are part of the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment based in Fort Campbell, Kent. There are about 3,000 soldiers in the unit.

“Our thoughts and prayers remain with the families of the fallen,” the Pentagon said. “The U.S. Army’s Combat Readiness Center is conducting an investigation into the incident.”

Friday night’s crash is the third Army helicopter crash of the year. In March, nine soldiers were killed when two Blackhawks slammed into each other during a training session just west of Fort Campbell in Kentucky. About a month later, three soldiers died when two helicopters collided in the skies above Alaska while returning from a training mission.