NASHVILLE (AP) — An investigation has begun into a helicopter crash that killed two Tennessee Army National Guard pilots.
Tennessee National Guard Maj. Gen. Max Haston said in a statement Sunday that 1st Lt. Thomas Joseph Williams Jr. and Chief Warrant Officer 4 Daniel Cole, both of Knoxville, died Saturday when their OH-58D Kiowa Warrior helicopter crashed in Campbell County while they were conducting a routine training flight.
Tennessee Military Department spokesman Randy Harris told The Knoxville News Sentinel that the crash is being investigated by an Army aviation safety team from Fort Rucker, Ala.
Both pilots were with Troop C of the 1/230th Air Cavalry Squadron based at McGhee Tyson, Harris said. He said Cole was an instructor pilot and both men had several years of service.
Haston called the loss of the two pilots "incalculable."
"Words cannot express the sorrow I personally feel for these soldiers, their families and their fellow soldiers who knew and served with them in peacetime and combat," Haston said. "It is a terrible tragedy whenever we lose a soldier, but we can rest assured that these two outstanding pilots lost their lives doing something that they loved and believed in, preparing to defend the freedoms we all enjoy."
Gov. Bill Haslam said he mourned the loss of the soldiers and noted that the crash "is a somber reminder of how our troops face life-threatening situations in training as well as in combat."
Officials declined to speculate on a possible cause for Saturday's crash, but Haston said the Guard would cooperate fully with the investigation.
"I pledge our full support to the agencies charged with the responsibility of investigating the cause of this crash and appreciate their professionalism and support to our soldiers and families," he said.
Information from: The Knoxville News Sentinel, http://www.knoxnews.com