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Air Force helicopter shot while flying over Virginia; crew member injured

An Air Force UH-1N Huey helicopter was forced to conduct an emergency landing at a local airport in Manassas, Virginia, Monday after being shot from the ground.

A crew member received a minor injury, and was treated and then released at a local hospital, a spokesman for Joint Base Andrews said in an email. The helicopter — which was on a routine training mission and is assigned to the 1st Helicopter Squadron at Andrews — was damaged.

McClatchy first reported the incident on Wednesday.

The FBI is investigating the incident, along with the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, Andrews said, and the initial findings are that a bullet struck the aircraft.

The Air Force later said that the helicopter was about 10 miles northwest of the airport, near Middleburg, Virginia, at an altitude of about 1,000 feet when it was shot.

Richard Allabaugh, the airport operations officer at Manassas Regional Airport, said in an interview that the airport’s tower alerted them at about 12:20 p.m. that a military helicopter was coming in with an in-flight emergency.

One person aboard the helicopter had a bleeding hand, Allabaugh said the tower reported.

At 12:43, Andrews said, the helicopter landed safely. Paramedics arrived shortly afterwards, Allabaugh said.

The FBI’s Washington field office said in a statement that it dispatched special agents and its Evidence Response Team to the airport after receiving reports that a helicopter had been shot at from the ground nearby.

The FBI said its field office “is working jointly with our law enforcement partners, including the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, to determine the circumstances surrounding the incident.”

The injured man in the helicopter was treated and released at a hospital, the FBI said.

The FBI asked that anyone near the area at the time of the incident, who may have information, call the Washington field office at 202-278-2000.

The 1st Helicopter Squadron has crews on alert around the clock for several vital missions, such as providing airlift for distinguished visitors, the Air Force District of Washington’s website said.

The squadron also stays ready to provide medical evacuation during public events such as the Andrews Joint Service Open House, as well as helping maintain continuity of operations for the Air Force District of Washington. On Sept. 11, helicopters from the squadron landed at the Pentagon to evacuate senior Defense Department leadership.

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