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Enemy fire caused Black Hawk crash that killed 6 soldiers

Jan. 9, 2014 - 06:00AM   |  
Maj. Gen. Paul Funk, commander of 1st Infantry Division, pauses to remember fallen soldiers Jan. 9 in a memorial ceremony.
Maj. Gen. Paul Funk, commander of 1st Infantry Division, pauses to remember fallen soldiers Jan. 9 in a memorial ceremony. (Army)
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Enemy fire caused the helicopter crash that killed six soldiers in Afghanistan in December, officials said today.

Five soldiers from Fort Riley, Kan., and one based in Europe were killed Dec. 17 when their UH-60 Black Hawk crashed in Zabul in southern Afghanistan. A seventh soldier survived the crash.

The deaths make the crash one of the worst casualty incidents in the Iraq or Afghanistan wars.

“The families of the soldiers killed in the Dec. 17 helicopter crash have been notified that enemy action caused the crash and loss of life,” a spokesman for the International Security Assistance Force wrote in an email to Army Times. “Although the investigation is not yet complete, we informed the families at this time out of respect so they know how their loved ones died. The investigation is ongoing and more details will be provided when the investigation is complete.”

Among the Fort Riley soldiers killed in the crash were:

• Chief Warrant Officer 2 Randy L. Billings, 34, of Heavener, Okla.

• Chief Warrant Officer 2 Joshua B. Silverman, 35, of Scottsdale, Ariz.

• Sgt. Peter C. Bohler, 29, of Willow Spring, N.C.

They were assigned to 3rd Assault Helicopter Battalion, 1st Aviation Regiment, 1st Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Infantry Division.

The other two Fort Riley soldiers killed were:

• Spc. Terry K.D. Gordon, 22, of Shubuta, Miss., who was assigned to 1st Squadron, 6th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Infantry Division.

• Sgt. 1st Class Omar W. Forde, 28, of Marietta, Ga., assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Infantry Division.

A sixth soldier, based in Vilseck, Germany, was identified as Staff Sgt. Jesse L. Williams, 30, of Elkhart, Ind. Williams was assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, Regimental Support Squadron, 2nd Cavalry Regiment.

The fallen soldiers from the 1st Infantry Division were honored Jan. 9 during a memorial service at Fort Riley.

The 1st Infantry Division Combat Aviation Brigade sent about 2,000 soldiers to Afghanistan in August for a nine-month deployment, replacing the 3rd Infantry Division's Combat Aviation Brigade. According to a brigade news release in September, the soldiers are responsible for providing air support over a mountainous and desert region roughly the size of Montana.

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