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Two Fort Bragg pilots killed in Afghanistan helicopter crash

FORT BRAGG -- Two pilots from the 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade died in Logar Province in Afghanistan last week when their Kiowa helicopter crashed, according to the Army.

Jose Montenegro Jr., 31, and Thalia Ramirez, 28, were both chief warrant officers second class, the Army said. Officials said the cause of the crash is under investigation.

Their unit was nearing the end of a year-long deployment in Afghanistan, the Army said.

Ramirez lived in Raeford with her husband, Jesse Belbeck, officials reported.

Montenegro was from San Juan, Texas.

Both pilots had earned their qualifications in the OH-58D Kiowa Warrior helicopter in 2008, the Army said.

Ramirez, who was born in Kenya where her parents still live, joined the Army in 2003 and was originally a water-purification specialist. She had flown 270 missions during the unit’s Afghan deployment, gaining 650 hours of air time.

Montenegro signed up in 2001 and was first assigned to the infantry. He was in his third overseas deployment, having gone to Iraq in 2004 and Afghanistan in 2010.
 

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