U.S. Army identifies 9 soldiers killed in Black Hawk helicopter collision
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The U.S. Army on Friday identified the nine soldiers killed in a mid-air collision involving two Black Hawk helicopters near Fort Campbell, Kentucky, on Wednesday evening.
The U.S. service members were aboard two HH60 Blackhawk helicopters during a routine training mission when the incident occurred, the Army said in a news release.
Five crew members were aboard one helicopter and four were in the other, Army officials said during a news briefing on the collision. The accident occurred near a residential field so no “residents were injured as a result of the crash,” they said.
“This is a time of great sadness for the 101st Airborne Division,” Maj. Gen. JP McGee, commanding general of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) and Fort Campbell, said in a statement Friday. “The loss of these Soldiers will reverberate through our formations for years to come. Now is the time for grieving and healing. The whole division and this community stand behind the families and friends of our fallen Soldiers.”
Here’s what we know about the fallen soldiers from personnel records released by the U.S. Army:
Warrant Officer 1 Jeffery Barnes, 33, of Milton, Florida:
Florida native Jeffery Barnes enlisted in the Army in 2010. He trained in Fort Jackson, South Carolina, and at Fort Eustis, Virginia. Barnes’ service included a deployment to Afghanistan.
Cpl. Emilie Marie Eve Bolanos, 23, of Austin, Texas:
Bolanos was born in the Philippines on December 20, 1991. In 2019, she enlisted in the Army. She trained at Fort Jackson and Fort Eustis. Bolanos spent nine months in Germany.
Chief Warrant Officer 2 Zachary Esparza, 36, of Jackson, Missouri:
In 2010, Texas native Esparza enlisted in the Army. He trained at Fort Jackson and at Fort Gordon, Georgia. Esparza served numerous overseas missions, including two overseas tours in Japan and Hawaii. He was deployed to Afghanistan and also served 10 months in Egypt.
Sgt. Isaac Gayo, 27, of Los Angeles, California:
Gayo was born in the Philippines and in 2019 he enlisted in the Army. He was living in Los Angeles and trained at Fort Jackson and Fort Eustis. Gayo was subsequently assigned to Camp Humphreys, Korea, where he served in many capacities on the UH-60 crew.
Staff Sgt. Joshua C. Gore, 25, of Morehead City, North Carolina:
Born in Virginia, Gore enlisted in the Army from Morehead City, North Carolina. Gore trained at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and in Fort Sam Houston, Texas. He also served as a flight paramedic.
Warrant Officer 1 Aaron Healy, 32, of Cape Coral, Florida
A Florida native, Healy enlisted in the Army from Cape Coral. Healy attended basic training at Fort Jackson, then Army Ordnance School at Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland. Healy served as an aeromedical evacuation pilot. He deployed on two tours to Afghanistan.
Staff Sgt. Taylor Mitchell, 30, of Mountain Brook, Alabama
Alabama native Mitchell enlisted in the Army in 2014. Following basic training at Fort Jackson, he was assigned to Vilseck, Germany as a healthcare specialist. Mitchell served on two international tours in Romania and Germany as a flight paramedic.
Chief Warrant Officer 2 Rusten Smith, 32, of Rolla, Missouri
Florida native Smith enlisted in the Army from Rolla, Missouri in 2012. After attending basic training, Smith attended Advanced Individual Training at Fort Huachuca, Arizona. Smith served as an instructor pilot and was deployed twice to Afghanistan. Smith also served for nine months in Germany in 2020.
Sgt. David Solinas Jr, 23, of Oradell, New Jersey:
A New Jersey native, Solinas enlisted in the Army in 2018. He trained at both Fort Sill and Fort Sam Houston. Solinas served as a combat medic in Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
— Marc Schwartz contributed reporting.