Five U.S. soldiers killed in Black Hawk helicopter crash identified

Six UH-60L Black Hawks and two CH-47F Chinooks, assigned to Task Force Brawler, 4th Battalion, 3rd Aviation Regiment, Task Force Falcon, simultaneously launch a daytime mission Jan. 18 from Multinational Base Tarin Kowt. / U.S. Army

The Department of Defense on Saturday identified the five American service members killed in a helicopter crash in Kandahar, Afghanistan Monday night.

The five dead included everyone aboard the UH-60 Black Hawk, said Maj. Adam Wojack, a spokesman for the international military coalition in Afghanistan.

All were members of Task Force Falcon, 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade. The task force is based at Kandahar Airfield.

Staff Sgt. Steven P. Blass, 27, of Estherville, Iowa, was assigned to the 4th Battalion, 3rd Aviation Regiment, 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, Hunter Army Airfield, Ga.

Chief Warrant Officer Bryan J. Henderson, 27, of Franklin, La., was assigned to the 4th Battalion, 3rd Aviation Regiment, 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, Hunter Army Airfield, Ga.

Capt. Sara M. Knutson, 27, of Eldersburg, Md., was assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, Hunter Army Airfield, Ga.

Staff Sgt. Marc A. Scialdo, 31, of Naples, Fla., was assigned to the 603rd Aviation Support Battalion, 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, Hunter Army Airfield, Ga.

Spc. Zachary L. Shannon, 21, of Dunedin, Fla., was assigned to the 4th Battalion, 3rd Aviation Regiment, 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, Hunter Army Airfield, Ga.

The NATO military coalition said in a statement that “initial reports” showed no enemy activity in the area at the time. The cause of the crash is under investigation, the statement said.

It was the deadliest crash since August, when a U.S. military helicopter crashed during a firefight with insurgents in a remote area of Kandahar. Seven Americans and four Afghans died in that crash.

Col. Allan Pepin, Commander, Task Force Falcon, posted a message to family and friends on the 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division Facebook page.
Excerpt of Col. Pepin’s message:
“On behalf of the brigade, I extend my deepest condolences to the families, friends and fellow Soldiers of our fallen. We are all affected by this tragic event; but we stand together, resilient, to continue the mission and honor their lives. As we reflect on our fallen, we were all blessed to serve with such patriots and dedicated Dog Face Soldiers. I am proud of them and the tireless efforts of the RC(S) joint team to work to quickly recover our fallen heroes. Proof we live by the Warrior Ethos, ‘I will never leave a fallen comrade.’”

Col. Allan M. Pepin, right, commander of Task Force Falcon, 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade, Command Sgt. Maj. James P. Snyder, left, command sergeant major of Task Force Falcon, 3rd CAB, and Chief Warrant Officer 5 Randy Godfrey, center, chief warrant officer of the brigade, Task Force Falcon, 3rd CAB, unsheathe the Task Force Falcon colors during a transfer of authority ceremony Jan. 9, at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan. / DVIDS Hub

On Jan. 9, Task Force Falcon, 3rd Aviation Combat Brigade assumed responsibility of aviation operations in Regional Commands South, Southwest, and West on the flight line of Kandahar Airfield, in southern Afghanistan.

Task Force Falcon assumes aviation command

The area of operations is slightly smaller than the state of Montana.

The 3rd CAB, comprised of a reported 2,500 soldiers, is serving a 9-month deployment.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.