Five US service members lost their lives in a devastating military helicopter crash over the eastern Mediterranean Sea during a routine aerial refueling mission as part of a training exercise, according to US officials.
The incident occurred on Saturday and the cause of the accident is being investigated, but no sign of hostile activity has been found.
The Army’s European Command confirmed the tragic incident, adding that all five crew members on board the ship were killed. Search and rescue efforts involving nearby US military aircraft and ships began immediately after the crash.
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin expressed condolences, saying, “We mourn the tragic death of five American service members during a training accident in the Mediterranean Sea on Saturday morning.” He emphasized on the continuous sacrifices made by men and women to protect the nation.
As a matter of Department of Defense policy and out of respect for the families, the identities of service members are being withheld for 24 hours, to allow time for notifications. The Army has not disclosed the specific branch of service to which the aircraft belonged.
Additional Air Force squadrons have been deployed to the area, and the USS Gerald R. Ford aircraft carriers, equipped with various aircraft, are actively operating in the Eastern Mediterranean.
This incident is a poignant reminder of the risks taken by military personnel in their daily commitment to the security of the nation.