Army identifies victims of Washington's double helicopter crash
This post has been updated. See note at the bottom for details.
A crash investigation team on Wednesday was still trying to determine the cause of the crash of two military helicopters that went down during nighttime operations at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state earlier this week, killing four aviators.
The team from the Combat Readiness Center at Ft. Rucker, Ala., was gathering debris -- spread over a wide area -- from the violent impact of the two OH-58D Kiowa Warrior helicopters. The impact was heard across much of the massive military installation, but it was not clear whether the aircraft collided or were involved in separate crashes.
The incident occurred during a “routine night training flight” in the base's southwest training area near Rainier, Wash., Army officials said. It occurred in clear weather shortly after 8 p.m. Monday, causing emergency sirens to sound across the base.
“We are conducting a thorough investigation to find the cause of this event and offer our utmost support to the families during this difficult time,” Col. Robert Dickerson, commander of the 16th Aviation Brigade, said in a statement. “The soldiers and leadership ... mourn the loss of our patriotic heroes. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families, friends and loved ones of the aviators involved in the accident.”
The small OH-58D Kiowa Warriors are most often deployed on armed reconnaissance missions and have flown in various configurations on Army operations for the last four decades.
On Wednesday, the killed aviators were identified as:
--Capt. Anne M. Montgomery, 25, a native of North Dakota and 2008 graduate of the United States Military Academy.
--Chief Warrant Officer 3 Frank A. Buoniconti III, 36, a native of Colorado who served two tours in Iraq and one in Afghanistan. He previously was posted to Ft. Bragg, N.C., and the National Training Center at Ft. Irwin, Calif.
--Chief Warrant Officer 3 Shan Joseph Satterfield, 32, a native of Alaska who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, with previous postings in Korea and Ft. Campbell, Ky.
--Chief Warrant Officer 2 Daniel Sigfrid, 32, a native of Alabama who joined the Army in May 2008, arriving at Lewis-McChord in January.
Buoniconti's mother, Silvia Buoniconti, told the Colorado Springs Gazette that her son followed his father into the military “to serve his country” because “he felt it was the right thing to do.”
She said he had married his high school sweetheart, had three children and had only a few weeks ago adopted a fourth, a special-needs child. “Nobody wanted that little boy because of what he had and they didn’t want him to get into the system.”
[Updated 11:56 a.m., Dec. 15: The Army originally identified one of the victims as Joseph Shan Satterfield. His name is Shan Joseph Satterfield.]
Top photo: An Army emergency vehicle leaves the scene of a fatal double helicopter crash at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Credit: Jeremy Harrison / Tacoma News Tribune. Bottom photos, from left: Chief Warrant Officer 3 Frank A. Buoniconti III, Capt. Anne M. Montgomery, Chief Warrant Officer 3 Shan Joseph Satterfield, Chief Warrant Officer 2 Daniel Sigfrid. Credit: U.S. Army