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Military officials and family members have identified the soldiers killed in Wednesday’s Black Hawk helicopter crash as belonging to units from Fort Lewis, Wash., and Schofield Barracks, Hawaii.

Fourteen soldiers were killed when their helicopter crashed during a night operation in Kirkuk province, officials said. The helicopter crashed “shortly after extricating the soldiers from a combat mission,” an updated statement from the U.S. military command in northern Iraq read Thursday.

“The incident occurred shortly after takeoff, after completing the ground portion of a night mission.”

Military officials have said that initial reports and “on-scene observations” lead them to suspect mechanical problems in the crash, not enemy fire.

Four of those killed were from a helicopter unit based at Fort Lewis; the other 10 were soldiers assigned to the 25th Infantry Division at Schofield.

An Army spokesman at Fort Lewis said the crewmembers were from the 4th Squadron, 6th Cavalry Regiment.

The Associated Press reported that the crash occurred about a mile east of Tal Afar.

“There is no doubt this is a tragic event, not only for Task Force Lightning, but also for the families and fellow soldiers in the Schofield and Fort Lewis communities,” Maj. Gen. Benjamin Mixon, commander of the 25th Infantry Division and U.S. troops in northern Iraq, said Thursday.

“I extend my sincere condolences to those deeply affected by the loss of these warriors.”

Family members in several states identified some of the crash victims as their relatives.

One of those killed was Ricky Bell, a 21-year-old from Caruthersville, Mo., his aunt, Glenda Overbey, told the AP. Bell was supposed to go home on leave in mid-September, she said.

Josh Harmon, a 20-year-old from Mentor-on-the-Lake, Ohio, was a combat medic, family and friends said. Harmon got married earlier this year.

Michael Hook, 25, was from Altoona, Pa.

“He died doing what he wanted to do. But it’s been pretty devastating,” his father, Larry Hook, was quoted as saying by the Altoona Mirror.

Spc. Nathan Hubbard, a 21-year-old from Clovis, Calif., was also killed. His older brother, Marine Lance Cpl. Jared Hubbard, was killed by a roadside bomb in Ramadi in 2004. A third brother, Jason Hubbard, will be returning home from Iraq to be with his family, Clovis police spokeswoman Janet Stoll-Lee told the AP.

Phillip J. Brodnick, 27, was from Burbank, Ill. The city’s mayor announced his death at a town meeting on Wednesday night after getting the news from Brod- nick’s father, who is a city police officer.

Family members of Jessy Pollard, from Springfield, Mo., spoke about him.

“He was fighting for our American freedoms that we enjoy,” Pollard’s stepfather, Alan Dewitt, said to the Springfield News-Leader.

Jeremy Bouffard from Middlefield, Mass., was identified by his family as one of the victims, the AP reported.

Capt. Corry Paul Tyler of Puyallup, Wash., was identified as one of the Fort Lewis-based helicopter crewmembers by pastor William Warnock, who spoke for the family in an interview with KING Television of Seattle.

Garrett Ian McLead, 23, was a surfer from Rockport, Texas, who was on his second tour in the Middle East and looking forward to coming home in October, Rockport Police Chief Tim Jayroe, a family friend who was asked to speak on family’s behalf Thursday, told the AP.

He didn’t know McLead’s rank but said the young man had joined the Army shortly after high school because he liked the challenge.

“He was never quiet in his life. Garrett was very enthusiastic, always finding something to do,” Jayroe said. “Garrett was a fun-loving kid who grew up to be a really dedicated young man.”


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