Five of the Army's most elite aviators and crew from the 160th SOAR recently perished in a helicopter training accident over the Mediterranean Sea, according to the Department of Defense (DOD).
The incident happened while the MH-60 was conducting a training re-fueling operation where it experienced an in-flight emergency.
While this tragedy is especially difficult for all families, one of the soldiers lost hits especially close to home for the Enterprise community. Chief Warrant Officer 3 Stephen R. Dwyer, a 2004 graduate of Enterprise High School, died in the accident.
Enterprise Mayor William Cooper posted a statement on Facebook saying, "We are heartbroken to learn that Steve was killed while in service to our country," Cooper said. "I was Assistant Principal when he was in high school, and I remember him fondly. Let's all lift up his wife, their three boys, his parents, sister and other family members and friends in prayer as they go through this unimaginable time."
The DOD has released the names of those lost in the accident:
Chief Warrant Officer 3 Stephen R. Dwyer, 38, of Clarksville, Tenn.
Chief Warrant Officer 2 Shane M. Barnes, 34, of Sacramento, Calif.
Staff SGT. Tanner W. Grone, 26, of Gorham, N.H.
SGT. Andrew P Southard, 27, of Apache Junction, Ariz.
SGT. Cadee M. Wolfe, 24, of Mankato, Minn.
In a Facebook post on U.S. Army Special Operations Command, Lt. Gen. Jonathan Braga made the following statement: "We mourn the loss of these five incredible soldiers, each of them a national treasure. They 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. 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."
"Our thoughts and prayers are with their families, their loved ones, and their fellow soldiers," he added. "Like the special operations community always does, we will wrap our arms around them, grieve with them, and promise to never forget them."
The 160th SOAR are the Army's most elite aviators, crew chiefs and flight support soldiers. From handling missions that took down Osama bin Laden to other high-profile and high-risk missions, the 160th are always on call to transport special operators to and from their mission safely and efficiently and are also regarded as some of the best aviators in the U.S. military.
Here are two examples of what refueling looks like:
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