5 US troops killed in a military helicopter crash over the Mediterranean identified
The Pentagon, on Monday, officially identified the five members of the Army aviation special operations forces who lost their lives in the UH-60 helicopter crash in the Eastern Mediterranean over the weekend. The incident occurred during an air refueling mission as part of military training, according to the military’s European Command.
The five service members who perished are Chief Warrant Officer 3 Stephen R. Dwyer, 38, from Clarksville, Tennessee; Chief Warrant Officer 2 Shane M. Barnes, 34, from Sacramento, California; Staff Sgt. Tanner W. Grone, 26, from Gorham, New Hampshire; Sgt. Andrew P. Southard, 27, from Apache Junction, Arizona; and Sgt. Cade M. Wolfe, 24, from Mankato, Minnesota.
Lt. Gen. Jonathan Braga, the commander of the Army Special Operations Command, expressed profound sorrow, noting that these soldiers came from families with deep military service ties spanning multiple generations and formations. He emphasized the devastating impact of the news on the entire Special Operations community, highlighting the familial nature of their commitment to national service.
The fallen soldiers had distinguished records, with multiple combat deployments and a history of responding to deployments with no notice for swift reactions to various national security needs. Chief Warrant Officer 3 Stephen R. Dwyer, for instance, graduated from the U.S. Military Academy in West Point in 2009, serving as an MH-60M pilot, mission planner, and instructor pilot with deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. His commendations include the Bronze Star Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal, and the Air Medal with Combat device, among others.
Barnes, also an MH-60M pilot, graduated from Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington, in 2011. He was assigned to Korea and completed deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross with Valor device and the Air Medal with Combat device among other campaign awards.
Grone enlisted in the Army in 2017 as a UH-60 repairer. He served as a flight instructor and and MH-60M crew chief for the 160th. He deployed to Afghanistan and multiple times to Iraq, and he was awarded the Air Medal with Combat device, the Army Commendation Medal and the Army Achievement Medal with combat device among many other awards.
Grone’s parents, Steve and Erica Grone, said of their son in a Facebook post that they were “beyond proud of what you became and believed in. Thank you for all these amazing years. Please watch over us. Love you and can’t express how much you will be missed.”
Southard enlisted in the Army in 2015 as a UH-60 repairer and served as an MH-60M crew chief. He was first assigned to Fort Bliss, Texas, upon completing advanced individual training, and he completed a 13-month rotation to Task Force Sinai in support of ongoing peacekeeping operations. He deployed to Afghanistan and was awarded two Army Commendation medals and an Army Achievement medal among other citations.
Wolfe enlisted in the Army in 2018 as a UH-60 repairer and served as an MH-60M crew chief. His awards and decorations include two Army Commendation medals and an Army Achievement medal.
The U.S. has built up its force presence in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East in response to Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel. There are two carrier strike groups operating in the region, U.S. Air Force squadrons have received additional crews and warplanes, and U.S. special operations forces have been added to help Israel in efforts to rescue hostages taken into Gaza.