The Army has released the names of the three soldiers that lost their lives following a midair crash. The soldiers died when the two AH-64 Apache helicopters they were in crashed on their way from a training mission in the Donnelly Training Area.
The crash occurred at 1:39 pm on Thursday about 50 miles east of Healy in Alaska. The helicopters were returning to Fort Wainwright near Fairbanks when the accident happened.
Given that 12 soldiers died from helicopter crashes since last March, Army headquarters on Friday halted all aviation units following the Alaska crash – except those on critical missions. Nine soldiers died in Kentucky when two Black Hawk helicopters collided in March and the recent three died last week in Alaska.
“The move grounds all Army aviators, except those participating in critical missions, until they complete the required training,” the Army stated.
The names of the three officers that died in the Thursday crash were Chief Warrant Officer 3 Christopher Robert Eramo, 39, of Oneonta, New York; Chief Warrant Officer 2 Kyle D. McKenna, 28, of Colorado Springs, Colorado; and Warrant Officer 1 Stewart Duane Wayment, 32, of North Logan, Utah.
A fourth soldier who was not named was injured in the air accident but was rushed to Fairbanks Memorial Hospital where he was stabilized and in good condition.
The commander of the 1-25th AB, Lt. Col. Mathew C. Carlsen, mourned the loss of the men and disclosed that the Army will support their families in every way possible for a long time to come.
“The battalion is devastated and mourning the loss of three of our best,” Carlsen said. “Our loss cannot be compared to the suffering felt by the soldiers’ families. The entire team has come together to focus our thoughts, prayers, and actions to provide and sustain them with whatever comfort and support they need at this time, and I promise that this will continue long into the future.”
The commanding general of the 11th Airborne Division, Maj. Gen. Brian Eifler also lamented the deaths of the fallen soldiers.
“The loss of these Soldiers is devastating and is being felt by family, friends, and military communities across Alaska,” said Eifler. “The families of Fort Wainwright and 1-25 are as strong a team as I’ve ever seen. Our hearts are heavy, and our thoughts and prayers are with the families, friends, and loved ones of the fallen.”
The Army Combat Readiness Center in Alabama was detailed to lead investigations into the causes of the crash. Their final report will be submitted to the Department of Defense and Army Headquarters in the coming weeks for analysis and appropriate recommendations as well as actions.