Soldier killed, 3 hurt in Chinook crash at Fort Bliss training area
By DAVID BURGE | El Paso (Texas) Times | Published: May 5, 2014
FORT BLISS, Texas — The soldier who died in a helicopter crash at Fort Bliss, Texas, on Saturday was remembered as a loving father, great friend and someone who loved life.
Sgt. Dwight W. Burn, a 27-year-old native of Barstow, Calif., died when a helicopter belonging to the 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade from Fort Bragg, N.C., crashed while on a training exercise, the Army confirmed Monday.
Three other soldiers from the 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade were injured and are in stable condition, Army officials said.
A CH-47 Chinook helicopter crashed at about 8:15 p.m. Saturday near Orogrande, N.M., in the vast training area north of the Fort Bliss garrison. The cause of the crash is still under investigation.
"He liked to make people smile and really lit up a room," said Cintia Vasquez, Burn's ex-wife. Vasquez had a seven-year relationship with Burn including being married for two years. They had two daughters. He never remarried.
The helicopter had four soldiers on board at the time of the crash.
Two are expected to be released from the hospital by Tuesday evening. The third injured soldier will remain hospitalized for an unspecified time while he recovers from his injuries.
The Army did not identify the three injured soldiers or where they are being treated at the request of their families.
The investigation into the incident continues. Teams from the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg and the U.S. Army Readiness/Safety Center at Fort Rucker, Ala., are leading the investigation with assistance provided by Fort Bliss officials. No time frame has been set for the investigation to be completed, but similar probes take about six months to complete.
No Fort Bliss soldiers, personnel or equipment were involved in the incident. Other Army units frequently use Fort Bliss' training areas because of its vast open space and resemblance to the Middle East. The Fort Bragg helicopter was conducting high altitude mountainous environment training.
Burn was a "great man," said his ex-wife, who still lives in their hometown of Barstow.
He lived in Belize until his family moved to California when he was 4. He graduated from Barstow High in 2005, Vasquez said.
Their daughters are Violet, 7, and Vivian, 4.
"He was a great father," Vasquez said. "Anyone who came in, he showed them the pictures of his two daughters in his wallet. They were his pride and joy."
Burn had been in the Army since 2010 and was planning to make it his career, Vasquez said. He deployed to Afghanistan from September 2011 to September 2012 with the 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade. His military occupation was a helicopter mechanic.
"He loved basketball, video games, going outside with his friends and playing," Vasquez said. "He was really fun to be around."
His awards includ the Air Medal, Army Achievement Medal, the Army Good Conduct Medal and others.
"The loss of a Pegasus trooper weighs heavily on our hearts today, and our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends affected by this tremendous loss," said Col. Mike Musiol, commander of the 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade. "We are committed to providing support to our soldiers and families during this difficult time."