Fort Campbell releases names of 9 victims in Black Hawk helicopter crash

This story is being provided free as a public service. Check back for updates on this developing story.

A community is still grieving after nine soldiers died Wednesday when two HH-60 Black Hawk helicopters from the 101st Airborne Division crashed around 10 p.m. Wednesday in Trigg County, Kentucky.

Fort Campbell spokesperson Nondice Thurman confirmed nine soldiers died in the crash.

The 101st Airborne Division, nicknamed the "Screaming Eagles," is the only air assault division of the U.S. Army.

Names of victims of Black Hawk helicopter crashes released

The nine service men and women have been identified, following one of the deadliest training crashes at Fort Campbell, home to the 101st Airborne Division.

Those lost in the crash include:

  • Warrant Officer 1 Jeffery Barnes, 33, of Milton, Florida

  • Cpl. Emilie Marie Eve Bolanos, 23, of Austin, Texas

  • Chief Warrant Officer 2 Zachary Esparza, 36, of Jackson, Missouri

  • Sgt. Isaacjohn Gayo, 27, of Los Angeles, California

  • Staff Sgt. Joshua C. Gore, 25, of Morehead City, North Carolina

  • Warrant Officer 1 Aaron Healy, 32, of Cape Coral, Florida

  • Staff Sgt. Taylor Mitchell, 30, of Mountain Brook, Alabama

  • Chief Warrant Officer 2 Rusten Smith, 32, of Rolla, Missouri

  • Sgt. David Solinas Jr, 23, of Oradell, New Jersey

An Army aviation safety team from Fort Rucker, Ala. is on site and currently conducting a thorough investigation into the accident.

Staff Sgt. Caleb Gore identified by family as Black Hawk crash victim

Staff Sgt. Caleb Gore with wife Haleigh.
Staff Sgt. Caleb Gore with wife Haleigh.

Staff Sgt. Caleb Gore died along with eight other soldiers Wednesday when two HH-60 Black Hawk helicopters from the 101st Airborne Division crashed.

Gore was an Airborne medic and was working toward becoming a registered nurse. He was married to his high school sweetheart Haleigh, who is three months pregnant with a boy, according to his father.

Tim Gore, of Fremont, North Carolina, said his son’s life should renew belief in a unified country — and life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

“Caleb personified what is good about our nation and why we must still hope in what he (they) died for,” Gore wrote in a testimony. “He was the light of my world and I have no words to express my grief right now.”

Names of the Black Hawk crash victims to be released this evening

The military installation plans to release the names of the victims no later than 5:37 p.m. evening, according Fort Campbell's media relations officer Dawn Grimes.

Grimes said a safety team from Fort Rucker, Alabama has arrived in Fort Campbell to investigate the crash. She does not have a timeline for how long the investigation will take.

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear speaks about Black Hawk helicopter crash

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear spoke about the crash during a Thursday press conference.

"Today is a tough and tragic day for Kentucky, for the Fort Campbell and for the 101st," Beshear said. "The nine individuals we lost are children of God. They will be mourned and missed by their families, by their communities."

Air Force official: 'We take safety very seriously'

Press Secretary Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder briefed reporters at the Pentagon Thursday morning regarding the crash.

“In the United States military, we take safety very seriously,” Ryder said. “Each unit has a safety branch who’s primary role is exactly that — to maintain constant situational awareness of their safety. That is baked into our culture and something we continue to do.”

Ryder said he's “not aware" of a department of defense-wide review of helicopter safety.

“Every time there’s an accident it’s something that’s incredibly unfortunate and something we take very seriously," Ryder said. “Unfortunately a lot of what we do is inherently dangerous, so this is something we’re always working at."

Ryder said a team is already headed to Kentucky to start an investigation. He said if the investigation revealed "something systemic" then other helicopters could be grounded.

TN representative, veteran reacts

State Rep. Ronnie Glynn, D-Clarksville, said he was "saddened" when he woke up to the news of the soldiers' death.

"The 101st Airborne at Ft. Campbell is close to my heart," Glynn said. "It was my final duty station in the Army before retiring in Clarksville. I know all of Montgomery County, and Tennessee feels the pain of this loss and will join me in praying for their families. ”

Road closures

Maple Grove Road near Lloyd Sumner Road is blocked off, though, Fort Campbell will not say the exact location of the crash site.

Two military vehicles are blocking the street with other personnel blocking off the area as a team of investigators is expected to assess the wreckage.

Local pastor heard crash

Nicholas Clark, Pastor Oak Grove Baptist Church, heard a loud crash Wednesday evening that ended up being the fatal helicopter crash near Maple Grove Road.

"It reverberated," he said.

Hearing helicopters isn't new for Clark and his family, as Fort Campbell does routine training exercises.

Clark lives around a mile from the crash site.

Although Clark could feel the explosive crash, he said his children were asleep and they remained asleep.

"It’s a tragedy for not only his community but also their neighbors at Fort Campbell," Clark said.

Tennessee National Guard 'extremely saddened' by crash

"We at the Tennessee National Guard are extremely saddened to hear about the helicopter crash involving members of the 101st Airborne Division out of Fort Campbell.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the Soldiers and their families and friends."

On Feb. 13, another Black Hawk helicopter crashed in Alabama. Chief Warrant Officer 3 Daniel Wadham of Joelton and Chief Warrant Officer 3 Danny Randolph of Murfreesboro of the Tennessee National Guard died when their UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter crashed along Highway 53.

Clarksville community heartbroken by tragic news

Clarksville Mayor Joe Pitts released a statement on Fort Campbell helicopter crash:

"The hearts of our city are broken today at the tragic news of nine soldiers lost in the helicopter crash at Fort Campbell.

"Cynthia and I are praying for the families and leadership impacted by this news. The city has communicated with the leadership at Fort Campbell that we are ready to help in any way that is needed.

"We are also grateful for the service and sacrifice of the soldiers and their families who nobly serve and protect our freedom."

Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky released a statement:

"Please join me in praying for everyone involved in the Fort Campbell helicopter accident, especially our service members and their families. My staff and I are monitoring the situation as we continue to receive more information."

U.S. Rep. Mark Green, who represents Clarksville, said:

“Camie and I are heartbroken by the loss of nine 101st Airborne soldiers during an overnight training accident. Fort Campbell is one of the closest-knit communities we’ve ever been a part of, and we know this loss is being felt heavily. Our prayers are with the families of those we lost. The loved ones left behind need all of our support. These moments serve as a stark reminder that freedom is never without sacrifice. America is grateful for their willingness to serve, and our hearts are broken that it came with such a high cost. We also want to thank all first responders from Trigg, Christian, and Marshall Counties for their swift response. Our hearts ache for these families.”

What type of Black Hawk was it?

The two Black Hawk helicopters were HH-60. Brig. Gen. John Lubas said the utility aircraft was used for medical evacuation —capable of holding two pilots and two crew members.

It has a top speed of 114 mph and was first contracted for use in 2019, according to military records.

Black Hawk crash: What to know about this military helicopter

About Fort Campbell

Straddling the state line between Kentucky and Tennessee, Fort Campbell is in many ways a self-contained city with chain restaurants, schools and a military community of thousands living right on the installation that spans 105,000 acres.

The installation conducts daily training, and has events for the public to watch obstacle course races and demonstrations.

Loving the community

Beshear, the Kentucky Governor, said he loves Fort Campbell and the community will wrap its arms around the military.

"They're a part of our community of who we are. They're lost today is our loss," Beshear said. "We're going to stand with both those that are here today and again, we're going to make sure that these families know that they are loved. They are not alone."

A soldier's love for his country

Jimmie Garland knows the impact of Fort Campbell. The current school board member and leader of the local NAACP office is a 29-year military veteran. He's heartbroken by Wednesday's crash.

"They are a representation of the community, they go out there with the understanding that have to give the ultimate sacrifice," Garland said.

What Fort Campbell means to Clarksville

The military installation means a lot to Clarksville, with more than 11% of the city’s population being retired veterans.

The military population, both retired and active duty contribute millions to the city in housing and sales tax.

Many veterans own businesses in the city.

Here are the most recent helicopter crashes at Fort Campbell

The last reported helicopter crash at Fort Campbell was in 2018 when two soldiers were killed during a training while flying an AH-64E Apache helicopter.

Prior to that, there was a reported crash in 2017 that killed two soldiers.

Black Hawk helicopter investigation

An investigation is underway to determine what caused two Black Hawk helicopters to crash Wednesday night in Trigg County, Kentucky, killing nine soldiers from Fort Campbell.

A safety team from Fort Rucker, Ala. will examine the crash scene and determine the cause of the crash, said Lubas.

Nine soldiers confirmed dead in Kentucky helicopter crash

Nine soldiers died Wednesday after two HH60 Black Hawk helicopters from the 101st Airborne Division crashed Wednesday night in Kentucky.

Officials said the crash occurred around 10 p.m. during a routine training mission in Trigg County, Kentucky — approximately 80 miles northwest of Nashville. A news release from the U.S. Army was posted on Twitter just after 2 a.m.

Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear spoke during a Thursday press conference discussing the crash.

"Today is a tough and tragic day for Kentucky, for the Fort Campbell and for the 101st," Beshear said. "The nine individuals we lost are children of God. They will be mourned and missed by their families, by their communities."

One Black Hawk was carrying five, another four, according to Lubas.

The names of the nine who died in the crash were not released as investigators notify next of kin.

"This a tragic loss for our families and Fort Campbell," Lubas said. "Our number one priority is caring for the families and soldiers in our combat aviation brigade."

They don’t have a response time, but Lubas said Trigg County and Christian County emergency responded quickly to the scene.

“Despite our losses we were lucky they were able to land in an open field and there were no other casualties.” Lubas said.

The two helicopters were medical evacuation variant of Black Hawks, Lubas said.

"Wrap our arms around these families," Beshear said. While the body is mortal, the soul is eternal."

Beshear said there are no state lines and said he spoke to Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee, who expressed his grief for the loss of nine soldiers.

The 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), based at Fort Campbell, is a light infantry division that specializes in air assault operations. The installation sits on the Kentucky-Tennessee border between Hopkinsville, Kentucky, and Clarksville.

"The status of the crewmembers are unknown at this time," the Twitter post said. "The command is currently focused on caring for the servicemembers and their families. More information will be released as it becomes available."

Heightened awareness

Since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, several thousand soldiers have been deployed to Eastern Europe to train with NATO allies. Training at Fort Campbell has continued as the installation prepares for potential military conflict.

Nicknamed the “Screaming Eagles,” the 101st Division was first constituted as an airborne unit in 1942 – World War II. The unit gained renown for its role in D-Day landings on June 6, 1944, in Normandy, France. During the Vietnam War, the 101st Airborne Division fought in 45 operations, spanning nearly seven years, including the Battle of Hamburger Hill in May 1969 as the division shifted from airplanes to helicopters as its primary method of delivering troops into combat.

Last month, another Black Hawk helicopter crashed in Alabama, killing both people on board. Chief Warrant Officer 3 Daniel Wadham of Joelton and Chief Warrant Officer 3 Danny Randolph of Murfreesboro of the Tennessee National Guard were killed on Feb. 15 when their UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter crashed along Highway 53.

Among deadliest US military training incidents

Wednesday's crash that killed nine is among the deadliest training exercises in the U.S. Military and the deadliest at Fort Campbell in 2018 when two soldiers were killed during a training while flying an AH-64E Apache helicopter.

The deadliest came in September 1960 when artillery fire during a 3rd Armored Division training killed 16.

This article originally appeared on Nashville Tennessean: Fort Campbell helicopter crash news: 9 victims identified in Black Hawk helicopter crash