5 U.S. military service members killed in aircraft accident in Mediterranean Sea

5 U.S. military service members killed in aircraft accident in Mediterranean Sea

Five U.S. Army Special Operations soldiers were killed during a training exercise Friday after a military helicopter crashed into the Mediterranean Sea.

The aircraft experienced an in-flight emergency during a routine mission, according to the Department of Defense.

“The MH-60 Blackhawk was conducting aerial refueling training when the aircraft experienced an in-flight emergency, resulting in the crash. The aircraft and soldiers were assigned to 1st Battalion, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne),” the department said in a statement Monday.  

It said earlier that search and rescue operations had begun, and that it was withholding the fallen crew members’ identities until their next of kin had been notified.

“While we continue to gather more information about this deadly crash, it is another stark reminder that the brave men and women who defend our great nation put their lives on the line each and every day to keep our country safe,” Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in a statement Sunday. “They represent the best of America. We will remember their service and their sacrifice.”

On Monday the five servicemembers killed were named as Chief Warrant Officer 3 Stephen R. Dwyer, 38, of Clarksville, Tennessee; Chief Warrant Officer 2 Shane M. Barnes, 34, of Sacramento, California; Staff Sgt. Tanner W. Grone, 26, of Gorham, New Hampshire; Sgt. Andrew P. Southard, 27, of Apache Junction, Arizona and Sgt. Cade M. Wolfe, 24, of Mankato, Minnesota.

“We mourn the loss of these five incredible Soldiers, each of them a national treasure. They hail from rare patriotic families with deep military service ties that span multiple generations and formations,” said Lt. Gen. Jonathan Braga, commander of the U.S. Army Special Operations Command, in a statement. 

“This is devastating news that reverberates across the entire Special Operations community. Every loss is tough, but in this case, service to the Nation is truly a family business and it’s hard to express the amount of sorrow that we all feel right now,” Braga said.

The incident is the latest of several military accidents that resulted in fatalities this year.

In August, a Marine Corps aircraft crashed onto Melville Island in Australia during a training exercise, killing three of the 23 service members it was carrying and leaving the rest injured.

Nine people were also killed when two Army helicopters collided over Kentucky during a training mission in March. Just a month before, three people died in another Army helicopter collision in Alaska.

CORRECTION (Nov. 12, 2023, 1:21 p.m.): A previous version of this article misstated how many fatal military incidents there have been this year. This incident is the latest of multiple fatal incidents this year, not the second of this year.

CORRECTION (Nov. 13, 2023, 6:00 a.m.): A previous version of this article also misstated when the crash took place. It was Friday, not Sunday.

Angela Yang

Angela Yang is a culture and trends reporter for NBC News.

Courtney Kube


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