CAMP RED CLOUD, South Korea — The 2nd Infantry Division on Tuesday identified the two soldiers killed in Saturday’s crash of an Apache helicopter belonging to 1st Battalion, 2nd Aviation Regiment.

Capt. Dion J. Burmaz of Placentia, Calif., and Chief Warrant Officer Aaron W. Cowan of Silver City, N.M., were killed after their helicopter crashed in the Twin Bridges Training Area approximately five miles west of Tongducheon, a 2nd ID public affairs office news release stated.

Both of the 1-2 soldiers were taking part in a field training exercise when the crash occurred. The cause remains under investigation, the release stated. The soldiers were to be honored Wednesday with a Yongsan Garrison memorial service, officials said.

Burmaz’s high-school buddy Greg Fliss said in a telephone interview from California that friends and family of the young company commander were mourning the loss of “one of the greatest guys you could be around.”

“Dion was my best friend. He always had a smile on his face. He was a born leader. In life, everybody seemed to gravitate towards him,” Fliss said.

Burmaz led the swimming and water polo teams at Sunnyhill High School in Fullerton, Calif., and went on to earn a degree from the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he participated in the ROTC program, Fliss said.

As a youngster, Burmaz dreamed of joining the Army. He dressed up in a camouflage uniform and filled his bedroom with model aircraft, Fliss said.

“He kept a model of an Apache helicopter on a shelf in his room. That model is still at his parents’ house,” Fliss said.

At Christmas, Burmaz, who was single, went on a scuba diving trip to Mexico with members of his family. He is survived by his parents, a sister and grandparents, Fliss said.

“He was a true family person. His family was who he was,” Fliss said.

Burmaz received his commission in 1998 and served at Fort Rucker, Ala., and Fort Bragg, N.C., before starting a two-year assignment to South Korea in 2003. He was due to return to the States next month, Fliss said.

The 28-year-old pilot loved the people he worked with in South Korea and loved his job, Fliss said. “Being able to fly over there all the time was his passion,” he said.

According to The Associated Press, Cowan’s parents said they last spoke with their son by telephone about 10 days ago.

“Aaron was a career officer; he was a good instructor,” his father, Tip Cowan, was quoted as saying. “The Army selected him to be an instructor time after time all the way from the Rangers to the helicopter school.”

Cowan served as a paratrooper for the elite Army Rangers before becoming a pilot, his father said.

Family members remembered him Monday as a good instructor and a strong soldier, AP reported.

“He was a soldier through the soles of his feet,” his father said.

Cowan, who had served in the Army for more than 18 years, leaves behind a wife and a son, 8, in Enterprise, Ala., near his home base of Fort Rucker, family members said.

Cowan began taking flying lessons and earned his helicopter license while still in high school. He joined the Army after graduating from Silver City High School in 1986.

“He followed that career into the Army,” said Tip Cowan, who served 35 years in the Army’s active duty and reserve forces.

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Seth Robson is a Tokyo-based reporter who has been with Stars and Stripes since 2003. He has been stationed in Japan, South Korea and Germany, with frequent assignments to Iraq, Afghanistan, Haiti, Australia and the Philippines.

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