The U.S. Air Force (USAF) identified airmen killed in the crash of its HH-60 Pave Hawk combat search and rescue (CSAR) helicopter near the Syrian border in western Iraq at approximately 6:45 p.m. GMT on March 15, 2018.
The seven Airmen aboard the helicopter who were lost in the crash are: Capt. Mark K. Weber, 29, of Colorado Springs, Colorado; Capt. Andreas B. O’Keeffe, 37, of Center Moriches, New York; Capt. Christopher T. Zanetis, 37, of Long Island City, New York; Master Sgt. Christopher J. Raguso, 39, of Commack, New York; Master Sgt. William Posch, 36, of Indialanic, Florida; Staff Sgt. Carl Enis, 31, of Tallahassee, Florida; Staff Sgt. Dashan J. Briggs, 30, of Port Jefferson Station, New York.
“I send my sincere condolences to the families, loved ones and service members who served beside the Airmen who were lost in this tragic accident. My prayers are with all those affected as we honor their lives and service together,” said Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson in a statement on Twitter.
An accompanying U.S. helicopter immediately reported the crash and a quick reaction force comprised of Iraqi Security Forces and coalition members secured the scene.
“Our hearts go out to the families and squadron teammates of our fallen,” said Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. David L. Goldfein. “The motto of the rescue community is, ‘these things we do that others may live.’ I am alive today and serving as CSAF because of them.”
“We are grateful to the Iraqi Security Forces for their immediate assistance in response to this tragic incident,” said Brig. Gen. Jonathan P. Braga, Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve director of operations. “Iraqi Security Forces continue to demonstrate their professionalism, capabilities and flexibility as we continue the fight towards a lasting defeat of (the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria).”
The statement from USAF added that the crash does not appear to be a result of enemy activity and the incident is under investigation.
Sikorsky MH-60G/ HH-60G Pave Hawk
Sikorsky MH-60G/ HH-60G Pave Hawk is a twin-turboshaft engine helicopter in service with the U.S. Air Force (USAF).
It is a derivative of the UH-60 Black Hawk and incorporates the USAF PAVE (Precision Avionics Vectoring Equipment) electronic systems program. The HH-60/MH-60 is a member of the Sikorsky S-70 family.
The MH-60G Pave Hawk’s primary mission is insertion and recovery of special operations personnel, while the HH-60G Pave Hawk’s core mission is recovery of personnel under hostile conditions, including combat search and rescue (CSAR). Both versions conduct day or night operations into hostile environments.
Because of its versatility, the HH-60G may also perform peacetime operations such as civil search and rescue (SAR), emergency aeromedical evacuation (MEDEVAC), disaster relief, international aid and counter-drug activities.