Victims of Army helicopter collision in Alaska include 2 chief warrant officers
Stars and Stripes April 30, 2023
Two chief warrant officers were among the three soldiers who died Thursday when a pair of helicopters collided and crashed in Alaska, the Army said in a news release Saturday that identified those who perished.
A fourth injured soldier who was taken to Fairbanks Memorial Hospital was listed in stable condition on Saturday, the news release said.
The victims of the crash were Chief Warrant Officer 3 Christopher Robert Eramo, 39, of Oneonta, N.Y.; Chief Warrant Officer 2 Kyle McKenna, 28, of Colorado Springs, Colo.; and Warrant Officer 1 Stewart Duane Wayment, 32, of North Logan, Utah.
The soldiers were assigned to 1st Attack Battalion, 25th Aviation Regiment at Fort Wainwright.
The AH-64 Apaches were returning to Fort Wainwright from a training mission in the Donnelly Training Area, the release said. They collided in flight around 1:30 p.m. about 50 miles east of the town of Healy, which lies 110 miles south of Fairbanks and close to the entrance of Denali National Park and Preserve.
On Friday, the Army ordered a service-wide aviation stand down following this crash and one a month earlier that took the lives of nine soldiers in Kentucky when two Black Hawk helicopters collided.
Active-duty units are required to complete the 24-hour stand down between Monday and Friday.
“The battalion is devastated and mourning the loss of three of our best,” Lt. Col. Matthew C. Carlsen, commander of the Alaska battalion, said in the release.
“Our mission now is to focus on the families, the survivors and to honor and cherish their memories,” he said. “Chris, Kyle, and Stew will forever be ‘Little Bears,’ ‘Vikings,’ and ‘ToughOnes’ of the Arctic Attack.”
A team from the U.S. Army Combat Readiness Center, headquartered at Fort Novosel, Ala., will lead the safety investigation into the Alaska crash.
The center, however, does not release any information to the public regarding the cause of crashes “due to limitations set forth by Department of Defense instructions and Army regulations,” the news release said.