2 National Guardsmen killed in military helicopter crash in Mississippi

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Two Mississippi National Guardsmen were killed Friday in a military helicopter crash that is under investigation, the Mississippi National Guard said in a news release.

The National Guard AH-64 Apache helicopter crashed during a “routine training flight” around 2 p.m. near Booneville, Mississippi, according to the release.

“Both service members served at the Mississippi National Guard Army Aviation Support Facility 2 located in Tupelo,” Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves said in a news conference Saturday.

“One solider, Chief Warrant Officer Bryan Andrew Zemek, age 36, was in Alpha Company 1st Battalion, 149th Aviation Regiment, serving as an AH-64 Delta Apache standardization instructor pilot in Tupelo,” Reeves said. “The second soldier, Chief Warrant Officer Derek Joshua Abbott, age 42, was in Delta Company of the 2nd Battalion, 151st Lakota Medical Evacuation Unit, serving as a maintenance test pilot in the Mississippi National Guard.”

National Guard Maj. Gen. Janson D. Boyles said the incident is under investigation. “Today is a devastating day for the Mississippi National Guard as we mourn the loss of two of our brave brothers in arms,” he said at the news conference.

“Our paramount concern at this time is to ensure proper casualty assistance is conducted to support the surviving family members,” the Mississippi National Guard said in the news release. “We are grateful to the first responders and safety crews who are still working the scene of the accident with local authorities. Like all accidents, this incident will be investigated.”

Reeves said in a post on X that “Mississippi will always be grateful for their service and we will never forget them.”

President Joe Biden said in a statement Saturday that he is praying for those involved and that his administration is “ready to provide any assistance needed.”

“Our prayers are with their families, units, and the entire Mississippi National Guard at this incredibly difficult time,” Biden said. “These two Guardsmen embodied the very best of our nation — bound by honor, and committed to service. We will continue to keep our solemn promise to care for their families, just as they were faithful to our nation.”

The crash is the latest deadly military aviation incident in recent months.

Earlier this month, five Marines were killed when their helicopter, a CH-53E Super Stallion, crashed in a remote area of Southern California during a training flight. In December, the US military grounded its entire fleet of V-22 Osprey aircraft after eight airmen died when their CV-22 Osprey crashed off the coast of Yakushima Island, Japan.

In April last year, three US soldiers were killed and one was injured when two AH-64 Apache helicopters with the US Army’s 1st Attack Battalion, 25th Aviation Regiment collided after a training flight near Healy, Alaska. And last February, two Tennessee National Guardsmen were killed when their UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter crashed during a training flight in northern Alabama.

This story and headline have been updated with additional developments.

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