BAGRAM, Afghanistan March 24 —
A U.S. Air Force helicopter on a mercy mission to help two
injured Afghan children crashed in southeastern Afghanistan, killing
all six people on board, the U.S. military said Monday.
The HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter from the 41st Rescue Squadron at
Moody Air Force Base in Georgia was on its way late Sunday to pick
up the children, who had suffered injuries to the head, said Army
spokesman Col. Roger King said. It was not clear how they had been
"You think about the sacrifice these guys made, especially in
this case where you've got military personnel who are conducting a
flight that's basically a humanitarian mission," King added.
"They're trying to go out and save some Afghan kid's life it's
The remains of the six people on board all Air Force members have
been recovered and were to be flown to Bagram Air Base and prepared
for transfer back to the United States, King said.
"The investigation will probably bear out as to whether weather
played any part in it."
There were thunderstorms in the area when the helicopter went
down, King said.
King said the area is not considered a hostile region, and there
are few U.S. military operations there.
Press officer Master Sgt. Richard Breach said the cause of the
crash was being investigated but: "This is not believed to be the
result of enemy action."
U.S. Central Command confirmed that the helicopter was not shot
"The names of those killed are being withheld until their next of
kin can be notified," Moody Air Force Base spokeswoman Lt. Alysia
Harvey said early Monday.
The helicopter crashed late Sunday about 8:50 p.m., some 20 miles
north of Ghazni, Afghanistan, according to officials at Bagram Air
Base, north of the capital, Kabul. Ghazni lies 50 miles southwest of
U.S. military officials in Washington and Afghanistan said the
medical emergency and the helicopter flight were not in connection
with Operation Valiant Strike, a mission involving members of the
Army's 82nd Airborne Division in southeastern Afghanistan.
That mission, which began earlier this month, is meant to root
out remnants of the al-Qaida and Taliban believed to be operating in
"The Air Force is a close-knit family and the loss of one of our
own affects us all," Brig. Gen. John Folkerts, commander of the
347th Rescue Wing at Moody, said in a statement. The air force base
is located in Valdosta, Ga.
"We wish to express our deepest condolences to the family members
of these brave airmen and want them to know that we will not forget
the valuable contributions they made to this country and the impact
they made on the Air Force," Folkerts said.
Ten days ago, about 20 gunmen fired on a U.S. special forces
convoy on the road between the town of Gardez, about 40 miles to the
east of the crash, and Khost. The attack led to a firefight
involving coalition F-16 and A-10 aircraft and a half-dozen of
Apache helicopters. Five of the assailants were killed, and there
were no coalition casualties.
The last helicopter crash in Afghanistan was Jan. 30, when an
Army Black Hawk helicopter the Army's version of the Pave Hawk on a
training mission crashed near the Bagram air base, killing four.
|An Army Blackhawk helicopter is
under inspection by U.S. Air Force personnel on the flightline
in Bagram, Afghanistan, Monday, March 24, 2003. A U.S. Air
Force Pave Hawk helicopter, a variation of the Blackhawk, on a
mercy mission to help two Afghan children crashed overnight in
southeastern Afghanistan, killing all six people on board, the
U.S. military said Monday. (AP Photo/Gurinder
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