Five U.S. soldiers from Fort Campbell's military installation died during a Veterans Day weekend training mission when a MH-60 Black Hawk helicopter crashed over the Mediterranean Sea.
All were members of the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, known as the Night Stalkers, based at Fort Campbell, Kentucky.
The military's European Command said all five crew members on board were killed when the aircraft went down “during a routine air refueling mission as part of military training.”
"I am deeply saddened to hear about the loss of these brave service members who were apart of Ft. Cambell's Special Operations Aviation Regiment," Tennessee Rep. Ronnie Glynn said. "I am praying for the families of our service members. This loss is felt not only in our community, but also around the world."
The Department of Defense identified the soldiers 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; Sgt. Andrew P. Southard, 27, of Apache Junction, Arizona; and Sgt. Cade M. Wolfe, 24, of Mankato, Minnesota.
Lt. Gen. Jonathan Braga, commander of the U.S. Army Special Operations Command, also made a statement about the 'devastating' loss.
“We mourn the loss of these five incredible Soldiers, each of them a national treasure. They hail from rare patriotic families with deep military service ties that span multiple generations and formations,” Braga said.
“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. Our thoughts and prayers are with their families, their loved ones, and their fellow soldiers. Like the Special Operations community always does, we will wrap our arms around them, grieve with them, and promise to never forget them.”
Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee ordered flags across the state at half-staff.
Maria & I are devastated by the tragic loss of 5 Fort Campbell service members over the weekend.
We ask Tennesseans to join us in prayer for their loved ones during this time.
Flags at the State Capitol will be lowered through Friday in their memory. https://t.co/iUpTcsAZGJ
— Gov. Bill Lee (@GovBillLee) November 13, 2023
President Joe Biden mourns loss of service members
"Today, Jill and I mourn the loss of 5 American service members who died when their aircraft crashed in the Mediterranean Sea during a routine training mission. Our service members put their lives on the line for our country every day," Biden said in a statement released by the White House.
"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."
The military first announced the crash Saturday, adding that the cause is under investigation, but there are no early indications of hostile activity. Sunday, military officials said “search and rescue efforts began immediately, including nearby U.S. military aircraft and ships.”
In response, Hopkinsville, Kentucky, Mayor James Knight ordered all city properties to fly flags at half-staff.
"On behalf of the City of Hopkinsville, I extend my deepest condolences to the families of the five Army Special Operations service members lost during a training accident in the Mediterranean Sea this Veterans Day weekend," Knight said in a statement. "Let it serve as a reminder to us all of the sacrifice these soldiers and their families continue to make for our freedom."
U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, via a statement, mourned the tragic loss.
“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,” Austin said.
The crash comes seven months after nine soliders were killed when two helicopters from the 101st Airborne Division crashed in Trigg County, Kentucky. The nine servicemembers — five in one helicopter, four in the other — participated in a training exercise using night vision goggles, Brig. Gen. John Lubas said shortly after the crash.
Kenya Anderson contributed to this story.
The Associated Press contributed reporting.
This article originally appeared on Nashville Tennessean: Fort Campbell soldiers ID'd in Black Hawk crash over Mediterranean Sea