Nine soldiers were killed when two U.S. military helicopters collided during a training mission near a military base on the Kentucky-Tennessee border Wednesday night, the military said.
Two HH-60 Black Hawk attack helicopters collided during a routine training mission in Trigg County around 10 p.m., said Fort Campbell spokesman Nondis L. Thurman said. He said that an investigation into the accident is underway.
The helicopters belong to the 101st Airborne Division, based at Fort Campbell and owned by the Army. Air Assault Wing only.
Brig. Gen. John Lupas said during a news conference at Fort Campbell on Thursday that the military did not know what caused the collision and that there were no radio signals calling for help before it happened. The helicopters were equipped with flight recorders that officials hope could help shed light on what happened, he said.
All the soldiers in the two helicopters – four in one and five in the other – were killed, General Lupas said. He declined to provide details about any soldiers until their families are notified.
“This is a truly tragic loss for our families, our unit and Fort Campbell,” he said.
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said during a news conference that it’s a sad day for Kentucky and Fort Campbell.
“We must remember that freedom depends on those willing to serve, some of whom pay the ultimate price,” said Mr. Beshear said.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III said, “We are working with military leaders to ensure our troops and their families receive the care they need in the wake of this accident.”
“My heart goes out to the families of these service members and to the members of the 101st Airborne Division who bravely and proudly serve our country every day,” said Mr. Austin said in a statement.
A Black Hawk helicopter can carry an 11-man infantry squad, and the HH-60 model can be used for air strikes, medical evacuations and other purposes. According to the military.
The Weather in the Fort Campbell area Fair at collision time: calm winds, 10 mile visibility and 39 degree temperature.
Fort Campbell is located on 105,000 acres, which includes parts of Trigg and Christian counties in Kentucky and Montgomery and Stewart counties in Tennessee.
Helen Cooper Contributed report.