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The three National Guard members killed when a helicopter crashed in an upstate New York field this week were experienced pilots with past deployments to Afghanistan, officials said Friday.
Killed in the crash were Chief Warrant Officer 5 Steven Skoda, 54, of Rochester, Chief Warrant Officer 4 Christian Koch, 39, of Honeoye Falls, and Chief Warrant Officer 2 Daniel Prial, 30 of Rochester, according to the National Guard.
The UH-60 Black Hawk medical evacuation helicopter crashed in a farmer’s field near Mendon, south of Rochester, around 6:30 p.m. Wednesday. There were no survivors.
The crew had been conducting night vision goggle proficiency training in the local training area, the National Guard said. The helicopter was based at the Army Aviation Support Facility at Rochester International Airport.
Witnesses who called 911 reported hearing an engine sputtering and said the helicopter was flying very low.
Provided Tactical Guidance in Attempt to Help ISIS to Attack U.S. Forces in the Middle East
The Justice Department, along with the New York City Police Department (NYPD) and U.S. Army Counterintelligence, announced today the arrest of a private first class in the U.S. Army, on federal terrorism charges based on Bridges’ alleged efforts to assist ISIS to attack and kill U.S. soldiers in the Middle East.
Cole James Bridges, aka Cole Gonzales, 20, of Stowe, Ohio, was charged by complaint with attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization and attempting to murder U.S. military service members. The FBI and U.S. Army Counterintelligence arrested Bridges today, and he will be presented later today in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia.
“Bridges is charged with giving military advice and guidance on how to kill fellow soldiers to individuals he thought were part of ISIS,” said Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers. “This alleged personal and professional betrayal of comrades and country is terrible to contemplate, but fortunately, the FBI was able to identify the threat posed by Bridges, and today’s charges are the first step in holding him accountable for his crimes. ISIS ideology continues to infect those who would threaten the nation’s security from within and without, and we will continue to fight this threat.”
“As alleged, Cole Bridges betrayed the oath he swore to defend the United States by attempting to provide ISIS with tactical military advice to ambush and kill his fellow service members,” said Acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Audrey Strauss. “Our troops risk their lives for our country, but they should never face such peril at the hands of one of their own. Today, thanks to the efforts of the agents and detectives of the JTTF, and our partners in the Department of Defense, Bridges is in custody and facing federal terrorism charges for his alleged crimes.”
MENDON, N.Y. — The U.S. Army will lead the investigation into a helicopter crash that killed three National Guard members on a training exercise, authorities said Thursday after the remains of the troops were recovered from the rural upstate New York crash site.
Army aviation safety investigators were expected on scene by Friday morning, Monroe County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Michael Fowler said at a news conference.
The UH-60 Black Hawk medical evacuation helicopter crashed in a farmer’s field in rural Mendon, south of Rochester, around 6:30 p.m. Wednesday. There were no survivors.
Witnesses who called 911 reported hearing the sounds of an engine sputtering and said the helicopter was flying very low.
The Army was investigating what caused the death of a soldier at a base in Kuwait this week.
The soldier, who has not yet been publicly identified, was found unresponsive Wednesday at Camp Arifjan, the Army said.
“We send our heartfelt condolences to the family of the deceased,” U.S. Army Central said in an emailed statement Thursday.
The soldier’s name was being withheld until 24 hours after family had been notified, it said.
It’s the second soldier’s death in Kuwait this year, coming a little over a week after Staff Sgt. Anthony Bermudez, 28, was killed in a vehicle accident near Camp Buehring.