Nine soldiers were killed when two HH-60 Black Hawk helicopters flying out of Fort Campbell, Kentucky, crashed Wednesday evening, a base official told Military Times. There were no survivors.
The crash occurred just before 10 p.m. local time in Trigg County, Kentucky, during a “routine training mission,” according to a 101st Airborne Division press release. All of the deceased were assigned to the division’s 101st Combat Aviation Brigade.
The division’s deputy commanding general, Brig. Gen. John Lubas, mourned the loss during a Thursday morning press conference on post. He said more details will emerge once the soldiers’ families are notified and an investigation unfolds.
Lubas said the crews were training on flying a two-aircraft formation with night-vision goggles. He added that the helicopters were medical evacuation variants of the Black Hawk.
Local radio station WKDZ reported the county coroner and as many as 150 emergency personnel responded to the crash, which Lubas said occurred in an open field across from a residential neighborhood.
One witness who lives near the crash site told the outlet they heard “a pop” and “two booms.” Another witness, Trigg County resident Nick Tomaszewski, told local outlet WSMV-TV that he sees helicopters from Fort Campbell pass overhead often, but the two that flew by Wednesday stood out.
“I told my wife, ‘Wow, those look really close tonight’ for whatever reason ... about a minute later, they were coming across and there was a large explosion in the sky almost look like a firework went off. And then the entire tree line lit up.”
Army Times could not independently verify the details of the crash sequence. Inclement weather does not appear to be a factor, according to weather reports at the time of the crash.
Lubas told reporters that officials currently “don’t know” why the aircraft crashed. Officials from the Combat Readiness Center at Fort Rucker, Alabama, will investigate the crash and determine its causes, the general added.
“This is a truly tragic loss for our families, our division and Fort Campbell,” Lubas said. “Our number one priority is caring for the families and the soldiers within our combat aviation brigade.”
Identities of the deceased soldiers are being withheld until next-of-kin notification.
In February, Tennessee Guard Chief Warrant Officer 3 Daniel Wadham and Chief Warrant Officer 3 Danny Randolph died when the Black Hawk helicopter they were piloting crashed near Huntsville, Alabama.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Davis Winkie covers the Army for Military Times. He studied history at Vanderbilt and UNC-Chapel Hill, and served five years in the Army Guard. His investigations earned the Society of Professional Journalists' 2023 Sunshine Award and consecutive Military Reporters and Editors honors, among others. Davis was also a 2022 Livingston Awards finalist.
Jon Simkins is a writer and editor for Military Times, and a USMC veteran.