The U.S. Army has identified the nine soldiers who died after two Black Hawk helicopters crashed near Fort Campbell in Kentucky on Wednesday during a training exercise. Rusten Smith, who held the rank of Chief Warrant Officer 2, is pictured. Photo courtesy of 101st Airborne Division/Twitter
April 1 (UPI) -- The U.S. Army has identified the nine soldiers who died after two Black Hawk helicopters crashed near Fort Campbell in Kentucky on Wednesday during a training exercise.
"This is a time of great sadness for the 101st Airborne Division. The loss of these Soldiers will reverberate through our formations for years to come," Maj. Gen. JP McGee, commanding general of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) and Fort Campbell, said in a statement.
"Now is the time for grieving and healing. The whole division and this community stand behind the families and friends of our fallen Soldiers."
Zachary Esparza, a 36-year-old from Jackson, Missouri, holding the rank of Chief Warrant Officer 2, was the oldest of the victims, according to a news release from the 101st Airborne Division.
Another Missouri native, Rusten Smith, also held the rank of Chief Warrant Officer 2 and was among the victims, officials said. He was 32.
Two soldiers from Florida both held the ranks of Warrant Officer 1 and were identified as 33-year-old Jeffery Barnes and 32-year-old Aaron Healy.
Staff Sgt. Joshua C. Gore, 25, hailed from Morehead City in North Carolina while Staff Sgt. Taylor Mitchell, 30, was a native of Mountain Brook, Alabama.
Sgt. Isaac J. Gayo, a 27-year-old from Los Angeles, was also among the victims.
David Solinas Jr., 23, of Oradell, N.J., and Emilie Marie Eve Bolanos, 23, of Austin, Texas, were the youngest of the victims and held the ranks of sergeant and corporal respectively.
Army officials said in the statement that an aviation safety team from Fort Rucker was at the site Friday conducting an investigation into the incident.