Pentagon Identifies Army Spec Ops Flight Crew Killed in Mediterranean Helicopter Crash

Ryan Morgan
By Ryan Morgan
November 13, 2023US News
Pentagon Identifies Army Spec Ops Flight Crew Killed in Mediterranean Helicopter Crash
(From top L to bottom R) Chief Warrant Officer 3 Stephen R. Dwyer, of Clarksville, Tenn., Sgt. Andrew P. Southard, of Apache Junction, Ariz., Staff Sgt. Tanner W. Grone, of Gorham, N.H., Sgt. Cade M. Wolfe, of Mankato, Minn., and Chief Warrant Officer 2 Shane M. Barnes, of Sacramento, Calif. (U.S. Army Special Operations Command Public Affairs via AP)

The U.S. Department of Defense on Monday identified the five soldiers on board the U.S. Army MH-60 Black Hawk helicopter that crashed into the Mediterranean Sea Friday, killing all on board.

The crash occurred while the Army Special Operations aviation soldiers were conducting routine flight training over an unspecified area of the Mediterranean Sea when the helicopter went down. There is no indication that the crash was the result of hostile actors.

Those killed in the crash were Chief Warrant Officer 3 Stephen R. Dwyer, 38 of Clarksville, Tennessee; Chief Warrant Officer 2 Shane M. Barnes, 34, of Sacramento, California; Staff Sgt. Tanner W. Grone, 26, of Gorham, New Hampshire; Sgt. Andrew P. Southard, 27, of Apache Junction, Arizona; and Sgt. Cade M. Wolfe, 24, of Mankato, Minnesota.

The five soldiers were members of the Army’s highly trained 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (160th SOAR) “Night Stalkers,” which provides aviation support for various units within the U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM).

The exact cause of the crash is still under investigation, but the flight crew was conducting aerial refueling training when their aircraft experienced an in-flight emergency resulting in the fatal crash.

“Our hearts are broken for our Special Operations family. Our 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment teammates and their families are in our prayers. It’s our sacred obligation to care for them in this time of need, and always. NSDQ,” USSOCOM Commander Gen. Bryan Fenton and Command Sgt. Maj. Shane Shorter said in a prepared statement on Monday.

NSDQ is the acronym for one of the 160th SOAR’s mottos, “Night Stalkers Don’t Quit.”

Nicknamed “Night Stalkers” for their proficiency in nighttime operations, the 160th SOAR crews train for difficult missions in a variety of environments. The unit’s flight crews operate specially modified versions of the MH-47 Chinook, MH-60 Black Hawk, and attack and assault variants of the MH-6 Little Bird helicopters. The 160th SOAR works in close coordination with units like the Army Rangers, Green Berets, and Delta Force, as well as the U.S. Navy Seals.

“We mourn the loss of these five incredible soldiers, each of them a national treasure. They hail from rare patriotic families with deep military service ties that span multiple generations and formations. This is devastating news that reverberates across the entire special operations community,” said Lt. Gen Jonathan P. Braga, the commanding officer of U.S. Army Special Operations Command, which oversees Army-specific components of USSOCOM.

“Every loss is tough, but in this case, service to the Nation is truly a family business and it’s hard to express the amount of sorrow that we all feel right now. Our thoughts and prayers are with their families, their loved ones, and their fellow soldiers,” Lt. Gen Braga added. “Like the special operations community always does, we will wrap our arms around them, grieve with them, and promise to never forget them.”

It is unclear if this 160th SOAR flight crew was operating in the Mediterranean as part of routine deployment, or as part of the increased force presence the U.S. military has deployed to the eastern Mediterranean in recent weeks amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Hamas terrorist group in Gaza. The added U.S. military presence is meant to help protect U.S. forces in the region and deter additional attacks on Israel.

NTD News reached out to the U.S. Army Special Operations Command for additional details about the events surrounding the helicopter crash on Friday. The military command did not respond by the time this article was published.

“Chief Warrant Officer 3 Stephen Dwyer, Chief Warrant Officer 2 Shane Barnes, Staff Sgt. Tanner Grone, Sgt. Andrew Southard, and Sgt. Cade Wolfe were truly SOF professionals and are among the nation’s finest soldiers. Their loss has left an indelible void within this Regiment that will never be filled,” 160th SOAR commanding officer Col. Roger P. Waleski Jr. told Army Times on Monday.

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