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The Department of Defense has released the names of the seven soldiers, all Guardsmen from Texas and Oklahoma, who were killed Thursday morning in a helicopter crash in southern Iraq.

The soldiers were killed when the CH-47 Chinook helicopter that was taking them from Kuwait to Balad crashed just after midnight about 60 miles west of Basra, killing everyone on board. The military has said enemy fire was not involved.

The Chinook was one of four heading to Balad, according to the military. The three other helicopters completed their flights without incident.

The military is still investigating the cause of crash.

Those killed were:

¡ Chief Warrant Officer Corry A. Edwards, 38, of Kennedale, Texas, with the 2nd Battalion, 149th Aviation, 36th Combat Aviation Brigade, Texas Army National Guard. Edwards was married and had two sons, according to the Tahlequah (Okla.) Daily Press.

¡ Sgt. Daniel M. Eshbaugh, 43, of Norman, Okla., was also with the 2nd Battalion, 149th Aviation, 36th Combat Aviation Brigade, Oklahoma National Guard, based in Lexington, Okla. Eshbaugh served in the Air Force for 10 years and joined the Guard in 1998, according to the Tulsa World. After a two-year break, he re-enlisted in 2002 and also served a tour in Iraq in 2003.

¡ Sgt. Anthony L. Mason, 37, of Springtown, Texas, was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 149th Aviation, 36th Combat Aviation Brigade, Texas Army National Guard, Grand Prairie, Texas. Mason, who had four daughters, joined the Guard 12 years ago as a mechanic and more recently became part of the helicopter flight crew, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. It was his second deployment to Iraq.

¡ First Sgt. Julio C. Ordonez, 54, of San Antonio, was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 149th Aviation, 36th Combat Aviation Brigade, Texas Army National Guard, Grand Prairie, Texas. Ordonez was a 30-year veteran of the National Guard whom friends described as a mentor to younger soldiers, according to the San Antonio News-Express.

¡ Chief Warrant Officer Brady J. Rudolf, 37, of Oklahoma City, was with the 2nd Battalion, 149th Aviation, 36th Combat Aviation Brigade, Oklahoma National Guard, Lexington, Okla. Rudolf, a pharmacist, was a helicopter pilot who had served in the Guard for more than 20 years, according to the Tulsa World. He also deployed to Iraq in 2003. The World reported that Rudolf is survived by his wife, Jennifer, and three sons.

¡ Cpl. Michael E. Thompson, 23, of Harrah, Okla., and the 2nd Battalion, 149th Aviation, 36th Combat Aviation Brigade, Oklahoma National Guard. Thompson joined the active duty Army after graduating high school, did one tour in Iraq in 2005 and then joined the Guard, according to the World.

¡ First Lt. Robert Vallejo II, 28, of Richland Hills, Texas, was also assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 149th Aviation, 36th Combat Aviation Brigade, Texas Army National Guard, Grand Prairie, Texas. As of Monday afternoon, little biographical information about Vallejo was available.

The crash was the deadliest for U.S. troops in Iraq since an August 2007 Black Hawk crash in northern Iraq that killed 14 people. Nearly 70 U.S. helicopters have crashed since the war began in March 2003, according to the military.


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