9 US Army Soldiers Killed in Helicopter Crash During Training Exercise, One of Which Was a Soon-to-Be First-Time Father

On March 29, two US Army Blackhawk helicopters crashed during a training exercise, killing all nine US Army soldiers on board – according to a press release by the 101st Airborne Division. The crash occurred around 10:00 p.m. in a field in Trigg County, Kentucky, roughly 30 miles northwest of Fort Campbell. 

“This is a truly tragic loss for these families, our Division, and Fort Campbell. Our number one priority is caring for the families and the soldiers within our combat aviation brigade,” said Brigadier General John Lubas – the deputy commanding general of the 101st Airborne Division. The crash is under investigation.

Lubas confirmed all nine US Army soldiers – five on one Blackhawk, four on the other – were members of the 101st Airborne Division and members of the Fort Campbell community – a community that is shocked and heartbroken over the accident. “Our entire Fort Campbell community is surging resources in support.” 

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While the names of the nine US Army soldiers weren’t immediately released as they waited for families to be properly notified, we do know that one of the fallen soldiers was a 25-year-old named Staff Sgt. Caleb Gore. His father published a Facebook post on March 30 confirming his death, just hours after the accident. 

My precious son Caleb was killed in a tragic helicopter accident last night. He was the light of my world and I have no…

Posted by Tim Gore on Thursday, March 30, 2023

“My precious son Caleb was killed in a tragic helicopter accident last night. He was the light of my world and I have no words to express my grief right now. My words are my tears right now. Please pray for us all,” said Tim Gore – Caleb’s father and a pastor of Fremont Missionary Baptist Church in North Carolina. 

Tim Gore spoke with WRAL News that same day, describing the moment he found out his son died as something he would never wish upon anyone. He quickly turned his attention to Caleb’s wife, who is currently pregnant with the couple’s first child. Caleb was going to be a loving and caring father soon. 

Wral TV will be doing a tribute to my son. He truly deserves the honor

Posted by Tim Gore on Thursday, March 30, 2023

“They just found out yesterday it was a boy. She was my son’s childhood love, so the grief of the moment stretches pretty deep right now,” Tim said, adding that his son was a hero and a real-life tank. “My son was really a hero, not just in the sense that he was in the army but just who he was as a person.”

US Army Releases Names of the Other 9 Soldiers

The US Army released the names of the nine US soldiers who were killed in the Blackhawk helicopter crash on April 1 – just a few days after the accident. The fallen victims were between the ages of 23 and 36 and were members of the Fort Campbell community – where the 101st Airborne Division is stationed. 

Here’s a list of those that were identified:

  • Warrant Officer 1 Jeffrey Barnes, 33
  • Cpl. Emilie Marie Eve Bolanos, 23
  • Chief Warrant Officer 2 Zachary Esparza, 36
  • Sgt. Isaacjohn Gayo, 27
  • Staff Sgt. Joshua Gore, 25
  • Warrant Officer 1 Aaron Healy, 32
  • Staff Sgt. Taylor Mitchell, 30
  • Chief Warrant Officer 2 Rusten Smith, 32
  • Sgt. David Solinas Jr., 23

“At this time, the Army’s UH-60 fleet remains operational with no plans for a safety stand-down. A Safety Investigation Team from the U.S. Army Combat Readiness Center, headquartered at Fort Rucker, Alabama, is leading the safety investigation and, based on their findings, the Army will make decisions on safety and training protocols,” the US Army said in a statement. 

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The accident is one of the deadliest incidents for the 101st Airborne Division since 1988 when 17 soldiers were killed in a similar incident involving Blackhawk helicopters. Our hearts and prayers are with the families of the fallen and we thank all active duty and veteran soldiers for their service.

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