Army officials say that three U.S. Army soldiers died and one was hurt Thursday when two Apache helicopters from Fort Wainwright crashed while returning from a training mission. A spokesman for the Army Alaska said that there were two soldiers in each of the two AH-64 Apache helicopters.
Army sources said they were from the 11th Airborne Division’s 25th Aviation Regiment’s 1st Attack Reconnaissance Battalion at Fort Wainwright near Fairbanks. The 11th Airborne Division said in a statement Thursday evening that two of the soldiers were dead at the scene and a third died while being taken to a Fairbanks hospital.
The only person who made it out alive is being treated for injuries in Fairbanks, the statement said. The Army didn’t say who the troops were who died in the crash, and they said they wouldn’t say until 24 hours after the soldiers’ families had been told. The Army said in a statement that it wasn’t clear right away what might have caused the crash.
A team from the Army Combat Readiness Center at Fort Novosel, Alabama, is looking into it. “This is an incredible loss for these soldiers’ families, their fellow soldiers, and for the division,” said Maj. Gen. Brian Eifler, commanding general of the 11th Airborne Division. “Our hearts and prayers go out to their families, friends and loved ones, and we are making the full resources of the Army available to support them.”
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According to the statement, the Emergency Assistance Center at Fort Wainwright, which can be reached at 907-353-4452, was opened “to provide support for families, friends and fellow soldiers of those involved in the crash,” Healy is about 250 miles north of Anchorage and 100 miles south of Fairbanks. In February, an AH-64 Apache helicopter that had stopped to refuel at the Talkeetna Airport crashed while taking off.
Two troops were hurt. Four Apache helicopters, including that one, were on their way from Fort Wainwright, near Fairbanks, to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson to train. In Kentucky in March, two Army Black Hawk helicopters crashed during a nighttime training practice, killing nine soldiers.
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