Only two of the five airmen aboard an Army UH–60 Black Hawk helicopter that crashed three weeks ago in northern Italy were taking part in a re-enlistment ceremony, according to Air Force officials.

The crash — which killed four Air Force members and two soldiers — occurred Nov. 9 on the banks of the Piave River. And while a team from the U.S. Army Combat Readiness/Safety Center was sent from Alabama to Italy shortly after the crash, military officials haven’t said when the findings of the investigation will be released.

Capt. Cartize Durham — one of the four airmen killed — was re-enlisting another airman, Senior Airman Michael Costley from the 31st Logistics Readiness Squadron, according to Capt. Jennifer Ferrau, chief of public affairs for the 31st Fighter Wing.

Costley was injured in the crash and remains at a local hospital.

Ferrau said the other five airmen on board were on an orientation flight “learning what the Army does and how they do it.”

That was echoed by Maj. Richard Spiegel, deputy public affairs officer for V Corps in Germany.

“This was a training flight, which also afforded airmen the opportunity to gain a better understanding of joint operations and to conduct a re-enlistment,” he wrote in an e-mail.

Both Ferrau and Spiegel said they couldn’t quantify how often such flights take place.

The helicopter and its crew, assigned to Company G, 52nd Aviation Regiment, are tasked with missions such as VIP transportation, general aviation support and aircrew training, Spiegel said.

The standard procedure for any flight leaving the base is to follow a series of U.S. and Italian regulations, including filing a flight plan that’s approved by American and Italian authorities.

That flight plan will not be released until the investigation into the crash has been completed, according to Tech. Sgt. Michael O’Connor from the Aviano public affairs office.

Spiegel said the crew followed proper procedures, but he could not answer why the helicopter was flying in the area where it crashed.

“All the specifics are part of the investigation, so I’m not going to be able to talk about that,” he said.

All Black Hawk helicopters assigned to the 1st Battalion, 214th Aviation Regiment in Germany and Italy were grounded Nov. 20 for inspection, Spiegel said. All were cleared to resume flying about a day later.

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Kent has filled numerous roles at Stars and Stripes including: copy editor, news editor, desk editor, reporter/photographer, web editor and overseas sports editor. Based at Aviano Air Base, Italy, he’s been TDY to countries such as Afghanistan Iraq, Kosovo and Bosnia. Born in California, he’s a 1988 graduate of Humboldt State University and has been a journalist for 40 years.

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