3 Idaho National Guard members killed in helicopter crash
“They will be missed and there is no way we’ll be able to replace or fill the void that they’ve left”
BOISE, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) — Three Idaho Army National Guard pilots died after their Black Hawk helicopter crashed Tuesday night during a routine training flight in mountains about 15 miles southeast of Gowen Field in Boise.
Leaders in the National Guard hosted a news conference Wednesday morning. The Air Force Safety Center is expected to be in Boise Thursday to investigate the cause of the crash.
“This is a tremendous loss to the Idaho National Guard and our community,” said Maj. Gen. Michael Garshak, adjutant general of Idaho and commander of the Idaho National Guard. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and loved ones as we work through this tragedy.”
As of Wednesday morning, the three experienced aviators have not been identified pending next of kin notification.
Lt. Col. Nicole Washington, the commander of the 1st Battalion 183rd Aviation Regimen, spoke to the media during the news conference. She said rescue and medical personnel with the National Guard and Elmore County search and rescue are securing the crash site and recovering the bodies of the aviators on Wednesday.
She said members of the Idaho National Guard are a very close-knit group and said she personally knew the airmen who died.
“They are an intricate, necessary part of our community and they will be missed and there is no way we’ll be able to replace or fill the void that they’ve left,” Washington said.
She said those flying on the training mission combined thousands of hours of experience. A senior crew member had well over 15 years, the next 10 years and the third had about 5 years.
Washington said the area where the airmen died is a mountainous terrain where crews often train.
Col. Christopher Burt, the Idaho Army National Guard’s state aviation officer, said the aircraft was last contacted Tuesday at 7:45 p.m. Once the Emergency Locator Transmitter device aboard the aircraft was activated shortly after 8 p.m., his team immediately initiated emergency aircraft recovery procedures, which included air and ground search and rescue crews.
Inclement weather called off the search for a time, but the crash site was located shortly after midnight early Wednesday morning.
Gov. Brad Little, the commander and chief of the Idaho National Guard, expressed his condolences for the loss of the aviators and said their number one goal is to defend the country and they can’t do that unless they train.
“I just ask everyone to think about everyone that serves,” Little said. “Particularly the Idaho National Guard and what they do every day and the risks that they take, but also their families and their neighbors and how critical it is that we continue to show support for them particularly during this very difficult time.”
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