Six U.S. airmen and five civilians were killed when a C-130J crashed Friday shortly after takeoff at Jalalabad Airfield, Afghanistan, according to a 455th Air Expeditionary Wing news release.
Four of the airmen were deployed from Dyess Air Force Base, Texas; and the other two came from Hanscom Air Force Base, Massachusetts, the Friday news release says. The fallen airmen's names will be released 24 hours after their next of kin are notified.
While the crash is still under investigation, enemy fire is not suspected as a factor, the news release says. A Taliban spokesman had reportedly claimed on Twitter that the group had shot the C-130 down.
An Air Force spokesman confirmed that there were additional fatalities on the ground. "We know we have fatalities on the ground, however I cannot confirm the amount or disposition of them...who they are or in what capacity they served at Jalalabad Airfield," said Maj. Tony Wickman, a spokesman for the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing.
"It's with a heavy heart that I share with you the loss of six brave airmen today, as well as five contract civilians, Brig. Gen. Dave Julazadeh, commander of the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing, said in the news release. "They answered their nation's call and died in service to our country. There are no words that truly express the depths of sorrow and pain we feel for the loss of these Airmen and civilians who were contributing to a free and stable Afghanistan."
C-130s are used to transport military personnel and cargo. The five civilians killed in the crash were the only passengers aboard the C-130, Wickman said
"Michelle and I extend our deepest condolences and sympathies to the families of the six U.S. Airmen and five contractors who lost their lives in a military plane crash in Jalalabad, Afghanistan yesterday," President Obama said in a statement on Friday. "In addition to the Americans we mourn, we also are saddened that Afghan civilians lost their lives in this incident. As we mark this terrible loss of life, we are reminded of the sacrifice brave Americans and our Afghan partners make each and every day in the name of freedom and security. Their willingness to serve so selflessly will not be forgotten. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims' families and loved ones during this difficult hour. May God bless their souls."
The C-130J crashed shortly after midnight local Afghan time on Friday. The plane's wreckage is "contained wholly within the confines of Jalalabad Airfield," the news release says. The plane was assigned to the 774th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron, part of 455th Air Expeditionary Wing,
"I was saddened to hear about the tragic C-130 crash which took the lives of six U.S. airmen and five civilian contractors in Jalalabad, Afghanistan," Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said in a Friday statement. "While we are still trying to determine exactly what happened, this is a reminder of the risks that our men and women face serving their country in remote places all over the world. Let us not forget the importance of their service, and the critical mission they died supporting.
"My thoughts and prayers are with their families during this difficult time. I also want to express my condolences to the families of the Afghans killed in this tragedy. We remain committed with our coalition partners to helping the people of Afghanistan build a secure and peaceful country."
The four airmen from Dyess came from the 317th Airlift Group, according to a news release from the 7th Bomb Wing. Two of the airmen were pilots and the other two were loadmasters.
"The death of these airmen, who died in service to our country, is a profound loss," Col. Michael Bob Starr, 7th Bomb Wing commander, said in the news release. "The sadness and shock of this tragedy can be felt across the entire Dyess community, and our hearts and prayers go out to our brothers and sisters in the 317th AG. We are extending every available resource to comfort and care for the family and friends of our fallen heroes."
Col. Stephen Hodge, 317th Airlift Group commander, said the unit is going through a "deeply emotional time."
"The friendship and camaraderie in the Herk community, especially among our Dyess and Abilene [Texas] friends is unlike any other," Hodge said in the news release. "These Airmen and their loved ones are our family and we will continue to take care of them."
The two airmen from Hanscom were members of the 66th Security Forces Squadron, who were deployed to the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing in Afghanistan, according to a news release from Hanscom Air Force Base. Airmen with the security forces squadron frequently deploy around the world for security operations.
"This is a devastating day for our Air Force and for Hanscom Air Force Base," base commander Col. Michael A. Vogel, said in the news release. "Our hearts are heavy with sorrow as we grieve with and for the families of these brave Airmen."
This story is developing and will be updated as more information becomes available.