Veteran National Guard pilots killed in Black Hawk crash in Alabama
Stars and Stripes February 16, 2023
Two longtime Tennessee Army National Guard pilots were killed Wednesday when their Black Hawk helicopter crashed near Huntsville, Ala., Guard officials said.
Chief Warrant Officer 3 Daniel Wadham and Chief Warrant Officer 3 Danny Randolph were killed in the crash that happened at about 3 p.m. local time, Col. James A. Reed, a Tennessee Guard spokesman, said Thursday in a statement. The crash remained under investigation, and a cause of the incident was still unknown.
Wadham was from Joelton, Tenn., and had served 15 years in the Army. Randolph was from Murfreesboro, Tenn., and had served 13 years, Reed said. Both were assigned to A Company of the 1-230th Assault Helicopter Battalion, which is stationed at Berry Field Air National Guard Base in Nashville, Tenn.
“Words cannot express my sorrow for the loss of these two Tennessee National Guardsmen,” Brig. Gen. Warner Ross, the Tennessee Guard’s top general, said in a statement. “It is felt not only within the ranks of the Tennessee National Guard but across our entire military community. We ask that Tennesseans continue to join us in prayer for these soldiers’ families amid this tragic loss.”
The UH-60 Black Hawk was conducting a routine training flight and approaching the Huntsville Executive Airport when it “rapidly descended and impacted the ground” near Highway 53 and Burwell Road, Reed said. The Huntsville airport is about 100 miles south of Berry Field.
Deputies from the Madison County Sheriff’s Department immediately responded to the crash site and reported the deaths of the two pilots. No other service members were aboard the aircraft when it crashed, and no civilians were injured when the Black Hawk went down, officials said.
One witness said she believed the helicopters’ pilots purposely guided the Black Hawk away from her subdivision before it wrecked.
Susan Shepard told AL.com news that she heard the helicopter flying over her home in Harvest, Ala., just northwest of Huntsville, before seeing the wreckage nearby.
“I think that that pilot was a hero and probably saved a lot of lives,” she said, according to AL.com. “However he did it, he probably saved our subdivision.”
Federal and state authorities were investigating the crash, Reed said.