Army Special Operations Command mourns 5 US troops killed in helicopter crash

These undated photos provided by U.S. Army Special Operations Command Public Affairs, shows the five Army aviation special operations forces killed when their helicopter crashed in the Eastern Mediterranean over the weekend. From top left to bottom right are, Chief Warrant Officer 3 Stephen R. Dwyer, of Clarksville, Tenn., Sgt. Andrew P. Southard, of Apache Junction, Ariz., Staff Sgt. Tanner W. Grone, of Gorham, N.H., Sgt. Cade M. Wolfe, of Mankato, Minn., and Chief Warrant Officer...

These undated photos provided by U.S. Army Special Operations Command Public Affairs, shows the five Army aviation special operations forces killed when their helicopter crashed in the Eastern Mediterranean over the weekend. From top left to bottom right are, Chief Warrant Officer 3 Stephen R. Dwyer, of Clarksville, Tenn., Sgt. Andrew P. Southard, of Apache Junction, Ariz., Staff Sgt. Tanner W. Grone, of Gorham, N.H., Sgt. Cade M. Wolfe, of Mankato, Minn., and Chief Warrant Officer...

This undated photo provided by U.S. Army Special Operations Command Public Affairs, shows Chief Warrant Officer 3 Stephen R. Dwyer, of Clarksville, Tenn. The Pentagon has identified the five Army aviation special operations forces killed when their helicopter crashed in the Eastern Mediterranean over the weekend. They are Chief Warrant Officer 3 Stephen R. Dwyer, of Clarksville, Tenn.; Chief Warrant Officer 2 Shane M. Barnes, of Sacramento, Calif.; Staff Sgt. Tanner W. Grone, of...

This undated photo provided by U.S. Army Special Operations Command Public Affairs, shows Chief Warrant Officer 3 Stephen R. Dwyer, of Clarksville, Tenn. The Pentagon has identified the five Army aviation special operations forces killed when their helicopter crashed in the Eastern Mediterranean over the weekend. They are Chief Warrant Officer 3 Stephen R. Dwyer, of Clarksville, Tenn.; Chief Warrant Officer 2 Shane M. Barnes, of Sacramento, Calif.; Staff Sgt. Tanner W. Grone, of...

This undated photo provided by U.S. Army Special Operations Command Public Affairs, shows Sgt. Cade M. Wolfe, of Mankato, Minn. The Pentagon has identified the five Army aviation special operations forces killed when their helicopter crashed in the Eastern Mediterranean over the weekend. They are Chief Warrant Officer 3 Stephen R. Dwyer, of Clarksville, Tenn.; Chief Warrant Officer 2 Shane M. Barnes, of Sacramento, Calif.; Staff Sgt. Tanner W. Grone, of Gorham, N.H.; Sgt. Andrew P....

This undated photo provided by U.S. Army Special Operations Command Public Affairs, shows Sgt. Cade M. Wolfe, of Mankato, Minn. The Pentagon has identified the five Army aviation special operations forces killed when their helicopter crashed in the Eastern Mediterranean over the weekend. They are Chief Warrant Officer 3 Stephen R. Dwyer, of Clarksville, Tenn.; Chief Warrant Officer 2 Shane M. Barnes, of Sacramento, Calif.; Staff Sgt. Tanner W. Grone, of Gorham, N.H.; Sgt. Andrew P....

This undated photo provided by U.S. Army Special Operations Command Public Affairs, shows Sgt. Andrew P. Southard, of Apache Junction, Ariz. The Pentagon has identified the five Army aviation special operations forces killed when their helicopter crashed in the Eastern Mediterranean over the weekend. They are Chief Warrant Officer 3 Stephen R. Dwyer, of Clarksville, Tenn.; Chief Warrant Officer 2 Shane M. Barnes, of Sacramento, Calif.; Staff Sgt. Tanner W. Grone, of Gorham, N.H.;...

This undated photo provided by U.S. Army Special Operations Command Public Affairs, shows Sgt. Andrew P. Southard, of Apache Junction, Ariz. The Pentagon has identified the five Army aviation special operations forces killed when their helicopter crashed in the Eastern Mediterranean over the weekend. They are Chief Warrant Officer 3 Stephen R. Dwyer, of Clarksville, Tenn.; Chief Warrant Officer 2 Shane M. Barnes, of Sacramento, Calif.; Staff Sgt. Tanner W. Grone, of Gorham, N.H.;...

This undated photo provided by U.S. Army Special Operations Command Public Affairs, shows Staff Sgt. Tanner W. Grone, of Gorham, N.H. The Pentagon has identified the five Army aviation special operations forces killed when their helicopter crashed in the Eastern Mediterranean over the weekend. They are Chief Warrant Officer 3 Stephen R. Dwyer, of Clarksville, Tenn.; Chief Warrant Officer 2 Shane M. Barnes, of Sacramento, Calif.; Staff Sgt. Tanner W. Grone, of Gorham, N.H.; Sgt....

This undated photo provided by U.S. Army Special Operations Command Public Affairs, shows Staff Sgt. Tanner W. Grone, of Gorham, N.H. The Pentagon has identified the five Army aviation special operations forces killed when their helicopter crashed in the Eastern Mediterranean over the weekend. They are Chief Warrant Officer 3 Stephen R. Dwyer, of Clarksville, Tenn.; Chief Warrant Officer 2 Shane M. Barnes, of Sacramento, Calif.; Staff Sgt. Tanner W. Grone, of Gorham, N.H.; Sgt....

This undated photo provided by U.S. Army Special Operations Command Public Affairs, shows Chief Warrant Officer 2 Shane M. Barnes, of Sacramento, Calif. The Pentagon has identified the five Army aviation special operations forces killed when their helicopter crashed in the Eastern Mediterranean over the weekend. They are Chief Warrant Officer 3 Stephen R. Dwyer, of Clarksville, Tenn.; Chief Warrant Officer 2 Shane M. Barnes, of Sacramento, Calif.; Staff Sgt. Tanner W. Grone, of...

This undated photo provided by U.S. Army Special Operations Command Public Affairs, shows Chief Warrant Officer 2 Shane M. Barnes, of Sacramento, Calif. The Pentagon has identified the five Army aviation special operations forces killed when their helicopter crashed in the Eastern Mediterranean over the weekend. They are Chief Warrant Officer 3 Stephen R. Dwyer, of Clarksville, Tenn.; Chief Warrant Officer 2 Shane M. Barnes, of Sacramento, Calif.; Staff Sgt. Tanner W. Grone, of...

These undated photos provided by U.S. Army Special Operations Command Public Affairs, shows the five Army aviation special operations forces killed when their helicopter crashed in the Eastern Mediterranean over the weekend. From left are, Chief Warrant Officer 3 Stephen R. Dwyer, of Clarksville, Tenn., Sgt. Andrew P. Southard, of Apache Junction, Ariz., Staff Sgt. Tanner W. Grone, of Gorham, N.H., Sgt. Cade M. Wolfe, of Mankato, Minn., and Chief Warrant Officer 2 Shane M. Barnes,...

These undated photos provided by U.S. Army Special Operations Command Public Affairs, shows the five Army aviation special operations forces killed when their helicopter crashed in the Eastern Mediterranean over the weekend. From left are, Chief Warrant Officer 3 Stephen R. Dwyer, of Clarksville, Tenn., Sgt. Andrew P. Southard, of Apache Junction, Ariz., Staff Sgt. Tanner W. Grone, of Gorham, N.H., Sgt. Cade M. Wolfe, of Mankato, Minn., and Chief Warrant Officer 2 Shane M. Barnes,...

FILE - The logo of the headquarters of the US European Command (US EUCOM) is seen in the Patch Barracks in Stuttgart, southwestern Germany, Dec. 4, 2006. Five U.S. servicepeople were killed when a military aircraft crashed over the eastern Mediterranean Sea during a training mission, U.S. European Command said Sunday, Nov. 12, 2023. (AP Photo/Thomas Kienzle, file)

FILE - The logo of the headquarters of the US European Command (US EUCOM) is seen in the Patch Barracks in Stuttgart, southwestern Germany, Dec. 4, 2006. Five U.S. servicepeople were killed when a military aircraft crashed over the eastern Mediterranean Sea during a training mission, U.S. European Command said Sunday, Nov. 12, 2023. (AP Photo/Thomas Kienzle, file) THOMAS KIENZLE

By TARA COPP

Associated Press

Published: 11-13-2023 1:27 PM

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Army Special Operations Command on Monday identified the five Army aviation special operations forces killed when their helicopter crashed in the Eastern Mediterranean over the weekend, calling each a “national treasure” whose loss cut deeply.

The military’s European Command said the UH-60 helicopter went down during an air refueling mission as part of military training.

The five service members who died were Chief Warrant Officer 3 Stephen R. Dwyer, 38, of Clarksville, Tennessee; Chief Warrant Officer 2 Shane M. Barnes, 34, of Sacramento, California; Staff Sgt. Tanner W. Grone, 26, of Gorham, New Hampshire; Sgt. Andrew P. Southard, 27, of Apache Junction, Arizona; and Sgt. Cade M. Wolfe, 24, of Mankato, Minnesota. They were all part of the Army’s 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment based at Fort Campbell, Kentucky.

The commander of the Army Special Operations Command, Lt. Gen. Jonathan Braga, said the fallen soldiers “hail from rare patriotic families with deep military service ties that span multiple generations and formations.”

“This is devastating news that reverberates across the entire Special Operations community,” Braga said on Monday in a statement. “Every loss is tough, but in this case, service to the Nation is truly a family business and it’s hard to express the amount of sorrow that we all feel right now.”

The fallen soldiers were highly decorated, with multiple combat deployments in addition to responding to deployments with no notice, sent overseas to respond quickly to various national security needs.

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Dwyer received his commission in 2009 from the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, New York. He served as an MH-60M pilot, mission planner and instructor pilot and deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. He was called up multiple times on no-notice deployments to support national security objectives, the Army Special Operations Command said. His awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal and the Air Medal with Combat device among many others.

Barnes, also an MH-60M pilot, graduated from Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington, in 2011. He was assigned to Korea and completed deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross with Valor device and the Air Medal with Combat device among other campaign awards.

Grone enlisted in the Army in 2017 as a UH-60 repairer. He served as a flight instructor and and MH-60M crew chief for the 160th. He deployed to Afghanistan and multiple times to Iraq, and he was awarded the Air Medal with Combat device, the Army Commendation Medal and the Army Achievement Medal with combat device among many other awards.

Grone’s parents, Steve and Erica Grone, said of their son in a Facebook post that they were “beyond proud of what you became and believed in. Thank you for all these amazing years. Please watch over us. Love you and can’t express how much you will be missed.”

Southard enlisted in the Army in 2015 as a UH-60 repairer and served as an MH-60M crew chief. He was first assigned to Fort Bliss, Texas, upon completing advanced individual training, and he completed a 13-month rotation to Task Force Sinai in support of ongoing peacekeeping operations. He deployed to Afghanistan and was awarded two Army Commendation medals and an Army Achievement medal among other citations.

Wolfe enlisted in the Army in 2018 as a UH-60 repairer and served as an MH-60M crew chief. His awards and decorations include two Army Commendation medals and an Army Achievement medal.

The U.S. has built up its force presence in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East in response to Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel. There are two carrier strike groups operating in the region, U.S. Air Force squadrons have received additional crews and warplanes, and U.S. special operations forces have been added to help Israel in efforts to rescue hostages taken into Gaza.