Alabama airman among dead in helicopter crash

Posted by: John Shryock - bio | email

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - The Department of Defense announced Thursday the deaths of four airmen, including one from Alabama, who were supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. Three others were wounded.

The men died June 9, near Forward Operating Base Jackson in southeastern Afghanistan, when the HH-60G Pavehawk helicopter they were in went down. The airmen were responsible for evacuating casualties.

Killed were:

Staff Sgt. David C. Smith, 26, of Eight Mile, Ala., assigned to the 66th Rescue Squadron, Nellis Air Force Base. Eight Mile is near Mobile.

Staff Sgt. Michael P. Flores, 31, of San Antonio, Texas, assigned to the 48th Rescue Squadron, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz.

1st Lt. Joel C. Gentz, 25, of Grass Lake, Mich., assigned to the 58th Rescue Squadron, Nellis Air Force Base, Nev.

Senior Airman Benjamin D. White, 24, of Erwin, Tenn., assigned to the 48thRescue Squadron, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base.

"Our hearts go out to the families of these brave Americans, and we express our deepest condolences to them," said Col. Gary Henderson, 23rd Wing commander.  "All seven Airmen involved in this incident embody the rescue motto 'These things we do, that others may live,' and were on a life-saving mission. These Airmen and their other rescue teammates are highly trained to perform life-saving missions in various situations. Protecting our nation's sons and daughters is a sacred trust and we take that responsibility seriously."

The Airmen and aircraft involved are assigned to the 563rd Rescue Group, a geographically-separated unit of the 23rd Wing.

The wounded Airmen, not identified, are assigned to the 66th RQS from Nellis AFB.

The cause of the accident is under investigation. No additional information was immediately available.

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