Died June 09, 2010 serving during Operation Enduring Freedom
26, of Eight Mile, Ala.; assigned to the 66th Rescue Squadron, Nellis Air Force Base, Nev.; died June 9, near FOB Jackson, Afghanistan, in a HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter crash. Also killed were Air Force Staff Sgt. Michael P. Flores, Air Force 1st Lt. Joel C. Gentz and Air Force Senior Airman Benjamin D. White.
Schwartz mourns airmen killed in medevac crash
By Scott Fontaine
The Pentagon has named the four rescue airmen who were killed June 9 when insurgents shot down their HH-60G Pave Hawk in southern Afghanistan.
Three airmen also were injured in the Pave Hawk incident, which occurred on the deadliest day for Air Force personnel at war in more than five years.
The four killed are:
* 1st Lt. Joel C. Gentz, 25, of Grass Lake, Mich.
* Staff Sgt. David C. Smith, 26, of Eight Mile, Ala.
* Tech. Sgt. Michael P. Flores, 31, of San Antonio.
* Senior Airman Benjamin D. White, 24, of Erwin, Tenn.
Flores and White were assigned to the 48th Rescue Squadron at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz. Gentz was assigned to the 58th Rescue Squadron at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. Smith was assigned to the 66th Rescue Squadron at Nellis.
The wounded airmen are members of the 66th Rescue Squadron. They are being treated at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Germany.
The helicopter crashed as the airmen, assigned to 563rd Rescue Group, were performing a medical-evacuation mission in turbulent Helmand province.
The last time four or more airmen died in a single day was May 30, 2005, when a prop plane crashed in Diyala province, Iraq. A fifth passenger, Iraqi Air Force Capt. Ali Abass, also died in that crash.
It was the bloodiest day in Afghanistan for the Air Force since Nov. 23, 2003, when four airmen were killed in a helicopter crash in Parwan province, according to icasualties.org, a website that tracks coalition deaths overseas.
The helicopter was providing support to British troops at the time of the attack, according to The New York Times. The newspaper, quoting a Taliban spokesman, said insurgents shot down the helicopter over the Sangin district bazaar with a rocket-propelled grenade.
Flores, a 32-year-old pararescueman, had earned the Distinguished Flying Cross and deployed eight times during his 12 years in the service. White, a 24-year-old pararescueman, had served in the Air Force since July 2006 and was on his first deployment.
Gentz, 25, a combat rescue officer, studied aerospace engineering at Purdue University and enrolled in ROTC because he wanted to be a pilot and perform combat recue, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Smith, 26, was a flight engineer who had deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan during his nine-year career.
Medevac crash victims returned home
By Scott Fontaine