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Airman killed in Okinawa helicopter crash identified

Then U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Mark Smith, 33rd Rescue Squadron flight engineer, right, is pictured receiving the Air Force Commendation Medal from Brig. Gen. Matt Molloy, then 18th Wing commander, on Kadena Air Base, Japan, June 20, 2012. Smith died when the HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter in which he was flying went down during a training mission Aug. 5.

Air Force officials have identified the airman killed when an HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter crashed Monday during a training mission on Okinawa.

Tech Sgt. Mark A. Smith was a flight engineer assigned to the 33rd Rescue Squadron, according to a release issued Saturday by the 18th Wing at Kadena Air Base.

The other three crew members on the helicopter when it crashed and burned in a forest on Camp Hansen were found soon after the crash Monday and treated at U.S. Naval Hospital Okinawa.

Smith, of Bakersfield, Calif., joined the Air Force in 2000. He was posted to Kadena in 2011 and deployed twice to Afghanistan with the 33rd Rescue Squadron, the release said.

“Smitty was a total professional and true warrior,” Lt. Col. Pedro Ortiz, 33rd commander, said of Smith, according to the release. “He led by example and was wise beyond his young age of 30. In combat or out, I am proud to call him my brother.”

Smith is survived by his wife, Jessica, and two daughters, the release said.

news@stripes.com

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