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KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan — An Army UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter shuttling U.S. Marines crashed in eastern Afghanistan on Thursday afternoon, killing one crewmember and injuring 14 troops.

The crash was not a result of hostile fire, said Lt. Col. Susan Meisner, an Army spokeswoman in Kabul. The transportation helicopter was destroyed.

Initial military reports indicated that the dead servicemember was a Marine. Meisner, however, confirmed that the fatality was a soldier, one of the four crewmembers aboard the Black Hawk.

The accident occurred in Khost province at about 2:45 p.m. along Afghanistan’s mountainous frontier with Pakistan, said Meisner. She said the aircraft was on a routine mission and not involved in combat operations.

The injured Army crew and Marines were evacuated to Forward Operating Base Salerno in Khost. Because of their injuries, four of the troops were then medevaced to the Army surgical hospital at Bagram Air Base, the main hub for U.S. operations in Afghanistan.

The only major Marine unit currently in Afghanistan is the 3rd Battalion, 6th Marines from Camp Lejeune, N.C. The unit is based at FOB Salerno.

Soldiers from 2nd Battalion, 25th Aviation Regiment — part of the Hawaii-based 25th Infantry Division — provide the vast majority of Black Hawk helicopters in the country.

Fully loaded, Black Hawks carry a crew of four and 11 passengers.

Meisner said the cause of the accident was under investigation.

This is the fourth fatal helicopter crash in Afghanistan since the U.S. invasion almost three years ago. All of the crashes have been accidents.

The last occurred on Nov. 23, 2003, when an Air Force MH-53 Pave Low crashed near Bagram, killing one soldier and three airmen.

This latest crash marks the 129th servicemember to die supporting Operation Enduring Freedom and the 32nd fatality this year.


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