The five crew killed in the crash of an MH-60 Black Hawk helicopter over the Mediterranean Sea included a West Point graduate who resigned his commission as an officer to fly Army helicopters and a second pilot who was once awarded the highest medal for valor the Army can give for combat flying.
The five soldiers killed were Chief Warrant Officer 3 Stephen R. Dwyer, 38; Chief Warrant Officer 2 Shane M. Barnes, 34, Staff Sgt. Tanner W. Grone, 25; Sgt. Andrew P. Southard, 27; and Sgt. Cade M. Wolfe, 24 all of the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, based at Fort Campbell, Kentucky.
The five were on a “routine training” flight aboard an MH-60, one of the highly modified Black Hawk helicopters flown by the 160th, the Army’s premier special operations flying unit. An earlier statement from the Army said that the helicopter was conducting air-to-air refueling when the mishap occurred.
Dwyer, the Army said, spent six years as a commissioned Field Artillery Officer after graduating from the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York, earning a Ranger tab and airborne jump wings among other training and awards. But rather than pursue a career as an officer, he resigned his commission in 2018 to become a warrant officer, the position held by many Army pilots.
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As a pilot with the 160th, the Army said, Dwyer was awarded a Bronze Star Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal, and an Air Medal with Combat Device.
Chief Warrant Officer 2 Barnes was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross with Valor, the highest award the U.S. military can give for bravery and skill during flight operations. Like Dwyer Barnes joined the Army as a commissioned officer after graduating from Gonzaga University. Barnes trained as a helicopter pilot and was assigned to a flying unit in Korea. But after being selected for the 160th, Barnes, like Dwyer, resigned his commission to fly with the special operations unit. He “dedicated himself to the organization and his profession,” the Army said.
He had multiple deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, the Army said.
Staff Sgt. Grone, from Gorham, New Hampshire, enlisted in 2017. He joined the 1st Battalion, 160th SOAR in 2018, and deployed multiple times to Iraq and Afghanistan. He served as a flight instructor and MH-60M crew chief.
Sgt Andrew P. Southard, 27, a native of Apache Junction, Arizona, was a helicopter crew chief who enlisted in 2015 and arrived at the 160th earlier this year.
Sgt. Cade M. Wolfe, 24, a native of Mankato, Minnesota, enlisted in the Army in 2018 and served as a crew chief with the 25th Combat Aviation Brigade at Wheeler Army Airfield, Hawaii before joining the 160th.
“These teammates demonstrated the highest level of dedication to the 160th SOAR and their exemplary service in the Army is the embodiment of what it means to be a Night Stalker and a Soldier,” said Col. Roger P. Waleski Jr., commander of the 160th in an Army release. “Our priority now is to ensure the families of our fallen warriors receive our complete support as we work through this tragedy together. We ask that you keep Stephen, Shane, Tanner, Andrew, Cade, their Families, and fellow Night Stalkers in your thoughts and prayers.”
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