Five U.S. Army soldiers killed in a helicopter crash during a training exercise over the weekend have been identified.
The U.S. Army Special Operations aviation soldiers were killed on Friday during routine flight training over the eastern Mediterranean Sea, the U.S. Department of Defense said in a statement.
They were identified as 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.
Chief Warrant Officer 3 Stephen R. Dwyer, Chief Warrant Officer 2 Shane M. Barnes, Staff Sgt. Tanner W. Grone, Sgt. Andrew P. Southard, and Sgt. Cade M. Wolfe are pictured in provided images. (Credit: U.S. Army Special Operations Command)
The Defense Department said there were "no indications the crash was caused by enemy / hostile actions."
"Our thoughts and prayers remain with the families of the fallen," the statement said. "The U.S. Army's Combat Readiness Center is conducting an investigation into the incident."
U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in a separate statement that "we mourn the tragic loss of five U.S. service members during a training accident in the Mediterranean Sea early Saturday morning."
"While we continue to gather more information about this deadly crash, it is another stark reminder that the brave men and women who defend our great nation put their lives on the line each and every day to keep our country safe," he said.
FILE IMAGE - Military personnel of the US Armys 101st Airborne Division take off with a Black Hawk helicopter during a demonstration drill at Mihail Kogalniceanu Airbase near Constanta, Romania on July 30, 2022. (Photo by DANIEL MIHAILESCU/AFP via Ge
The fallen soldiers were highly decorated, with multiple combat deployments in addition to responding to deployments with no notice, sent overseas to respond quickly to various national security needs.
Dwyer received his commission in 2009 from the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, New York. He served as an MH-60M pilot, mission planner and instructor pilot and deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. He was called up multiple times on no-notice deployments to support national security objectives, the Army Special Operations Command said. His awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal and the Air Medal with Combat device among many 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.
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.
This story was reported from Cincinnati. The Associated Press contributed.