Two soldiers killed in helicopter crash identified
iStock/Thinkstock(HOPKINSVILLE, Ky.) — Two soldiers were killed in a training flight of an Apache attack helicopter at Fort Campbell, Kentucky.
The soldiers, who were killed in an AH-64E Apache helicopter, were assigned to the 101st Combat Aviation “Destiny” Brigade, according to the U.S. Army. The chopper crashed in a local training area at Fort Campbell Friday night, the Army said.
An Army statement on the most recent crash said, “At approximately 9:50 p.m. Friday, two soldiers of the 101st Combat Aviation Brigade, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) were killed in an AH-64E Apache helicopter crash in the local training area on Fort Campbell.”
The soldiers were identified as Chief Warrant Officer 3 Ryan Connolly, 37, who was an instructor pilot in the brigade, and Warrant Officer James Casadona, 28, a pilot in the brigade.
Connolly joined the Army in 2001 and had been in Fort Campbell since 2016. He had received the followings honors: two Air medals; three Army Commendation medals; an Army Achievement medal; a Meritorious Unit Commendation; an Army Superior Unit award; two Army Good Conduct medals; a National Defense Service medal; an Afghanistan Campaign medal; an Iraq Campaign medal; a Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary medal; a Global War on Terrorism Service medal; two Non-Commissioned Officer Professional Development ribbons; an Army Service ribbon; and an Overseas Service ribbon.
Casadona joined the Army in 2012 and had arrived in Fort Campbell this year, according to the Army. He received the following honors: a National Defense Service medal; a Global War on Terrorism Service medal; and an Army Service ribbon.
“The Destiny Brigade has suffered a great tragedy, and our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of the deceased,” said Col. Craig Alia, commander, 101st Combat Aviation Brigade, 101st Airborne Division, in a statement released by the Army. “This is an unfortunate event, and we are saddened by the loss of our fellow soldiers. We ask that everyone respect the privacy of the families as they grieve the loss of their loved ones.”
The two deaths in the crash Friday night brings to seven the number of service members who have died just this week in three military aviation crashes in the United States. Two other aviation mishaps in the east African nation of Djibouti resulted in no casualties.
The fatal mishap follows two other deadly military aviation crashes in the last five days.
On Thursday, an F-16 crashed near Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada, killing Major Stephen Del Bagno, a member of the Air Force’s elite Thunderbirds flight-demonstration team.
Two days earlier, on Tuesday, a Marine CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter crashed near El Centro, California, during a training flight. Four Marines died — Capt. Samuel A. Schultz, 28; First Lt. Samuel D. Phillips, 27; Gunnery Sgt. Derik R. Holley, 33; and Lance Cpl. Taylor J. Conrad, 24.
Two other nonfatal aviation mishaps also occurred on Tuesday. A Marine AV-8B Harrier jet crashed on takeoff from the airport in Djibouti City. The pilot suffered no injuries after ejecting from the aircraft. Later that day, a Marine CH-53E helicopter carried out a “hard landing” at a beach near the capital city. There were no injuries.
A senior military official was asked Thursday if this week’s string of crashes might be a sign of systemic problems in military aviation.
“I don’t have anything … for you right now that should say those are necessarily linked,” Lt. Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, director of the Joint Staff, said at a Pentagon news conference. “But [we] always look at linkages. We always look at multiple causalities. We always look at that very hard.”
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