Special Operators Killed in Downed Aircraft Crash
Horrible news broke early Sunday afternoon on the military front.
During a training exercise, in what was supposed to be a routine refueling, everything went sideways and a military aircraft crashed into the eastern Mediterranean Sea.
All five service members aboard have been determined to have died in the crash.
The five men killed were all special forces operators. They have been identified as:
- Chief Warrant Officer 3 Stephen R. Dwyer, 38, of Clarksville, Tennessee
- Chief Warrant Officer 2 Shane M. Barnes, 34, of Sacramento, California
- Staff Sgt. Tanner W. Grone, 26, of Gorham, New Hampshire
- Andrew P. Southard, 27, of Apache Junction, Arizona
- Cade M. Wolfe, 24, of Mankato, Minnesota
U.S. European Command (EUCOM) described the incident as the aircraft having “suffered a mishap” during the refueling.
The DoD stated, "The MH-60 Blackhawk was conducting aerial refueling training when the aircraft experienced an in-flight emergency, resulting in the crash.”
Lt. Gen. Jonathan Braga, commander of the U.S. Army Special Operations Command, added, "This is devastating news that reverberates across the entire Special Operations community. Every loss is tough, but in this case, service to the Nation is truly a family business and it's hard to express the amount of sorrow that we all feel right now.”
Immediately after the crash, search and rescue efforts were launched to no avail.
Pentagon officials stressed that this crash was not due to an act of hostility.
After their deaths were announced, Biden stated, "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.
"Jill and I are praying for the families and friends who have lost a precious loved one—a piece of their soul. 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."
Secretary of Defense Austin added, "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.
"They represent the best of America. We will remember their service and their sacrifice."
The special operators had been deployed as part of a team in place to support operations if an evacuation of Israel or Lebanon had been ordered.
We all grieve the loss of these warriors who are literally the best of the best this country has to offer.
Our condolences go out to their families, friends, and brothers in arms… thank you for your service, and our hearts are broken over them having paid the ultimate sacrifice.