The U.S. Navy located and recovered the remains of three Army special operations soldiers and their helicopter after more than a month of searching.
The Navy confirmed it had found the MH-60 Black Hawk helicopter in the eastern Mediterranean Sea this week. Dive teams also found the remaining three bodies of the helicopter crew. The news comes weeks after the Black Hawk and its crew crashed into the sea on Nov. 10 miles off of Cyprus.
The Black Hawk was in the skies for what the Pentagon called a “routine flight training” operation. The 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment soldiers were in the region as part of a wider buildup of American forces in the eastern Mediterranean and Middle East following the start of Israel’s war in Gaza. The helicopter experienced an emergency during aerial refueling training and crashed.
The military identified the five soldiers a few days after the crash. Two of the five soldiers killed in the crash were recovered immediately after the mishap. However the remains of the other three have taken more than a month to find.
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The five victims were Chief Warrant Officer 3 Stephen R. Dwyer, Chief Warrant Officer 2 Shane M. Barnes, Sgt. Andrew P. Southard, Staff Sgt. Tanner W. Grone and Sgt. Cade M. Wolfe. All were members of the 160th. The Navy has not identified whose remains were found this week, saying that is pending while it notifies the next of kin. The cause of the crash is under investigation.
“The success of this mission can be attributed to highly trained Sailors, Soldiers, and civilians from the combined Army-Navy team who came together and displayed extreme skill to safely recover the helicopter,” Cmdr. John Kennedy, commander of the Navy task force that oversaw the recovery mission, said in a Navy statement. “Everyone onboard was humbled by the opportunity to play a small role in helping to bring closure to grieving families.”
Given the location in the Mediterranean Sea, the Navy and Army search and rescue team used a large, 4,100 pound remote operated Deep Drone, a Navy drone capable of going 8,000-feet below the surface of the water.
The Nov. 10 crash was one of several fatal aircraft mishaps across the U.S. military this year. Most recently in the aftermath of the Nov. 10 crash, an Air Force Special Operations Command CV-22 Osprey crashed off the coast of Japan, killing eight crew members. The military grounded its Osprey fleet in the aftermath.
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