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Air Force identifies 4 airmen killed in Pave Hawk crash

Jan. 8, 2014 - 06:00AM   |  
Capt. Sean Ruane, shown here at Moody Air Force Base, Ga., in 2009, is one of four airmen killed Tuesday in a Pave Hawk crash.
Capt. Sean Ruane, shown here at Moody Air Force Base, Ga., in 2009, is one of four airmen killed Tuesday in a Pave Hawk crash. (Airman 1st Class Joshua Green / Air Force)
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The Air Force has identified the four airmen killed in Tuesday’s Pave Hawk crash near RAF Lakenheath, England.

Capt. Christopher S. Stover, Capt. Sean M. Ruane, Tech. Sgt. Dale E. Mathews and Staff Sgt. Afton M. Ponce died when their HH-60G crashed in a wildlife preserve near the town of Norfolk, on the eastern coast of England.

The Pave Hawk, assigned to the 56th Rescue Squadron, was flying a low-level training mission when it went down at the Norfolk Wildlife Trust Cley Marshes near the town of Cley Next The Sea.

The crew consisted of a pilot, co-pilot and two special mission aviators who are qualified as both gunners and flight engineers, the 48th Fighter Wing said in a release Wednesday. Stover and Ruane were the pilots, and Mathews and Ponce were the special mission aviators.

“We continue to think of the loved ones who are experiencing such a tragic, sudden loss,” Col. Kyle Robinson, 48th Fighter Wing commander, said in a statement. “The Liberty Wing feels as though it has lost members of its family, and we stand by to support one another and these airmen’s families during this difficult time.”

Residents near the crash site said the Pave Hawk sounded unusual before the crash, according to the Associated Press. The area was also experiencing poor weather, with wind gusts of about 36 mph.

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