JOINT BASE LEWIS-McHORD, Wash. — All four crew members were killed Monday night after 8:00 p.m. when two army surveillance OH-58 Kiowa helicopters crashed outside of Rainier at Joint Base Lewis-McHord
The identity of the soldiers and cause of the crash are still unknown. It is not clear yet whether the helicopters collided in mid-air or crashed separately.
Lt. Col. Gary Dangerfield told the AP that the remains of the soldiers were taken to Madigan Medical Center. The families of the deceased were notified Tuesday afternoon of the tragedy; the public will not be made aware of the identity of the airmen until Wednesday.
The airmen were on a routine night training mission and –according to reports– the weather was clear at the time of the crash.
OH-58 Kiowa’s are single engine, double-bladed armed helicopters used mainly for reconnaissance missions.
The aviators on the base have halted activity as they grieve the loss of their fallen colleagues. “Right now the organization will stand down to begin the healing process,” James Oliphant, an officer at Lewis McHord told the AP.
Oliphant also stated that the investigation into the crash could take years to complete. The Combat Readiness Center in Fort Rucker, Ala. will lead the head the inquiry.