U.S. Recovers Fallen Chinook's Aircrew, Passengers
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, June 30, 2005 The U.S. military has recovered the bodies of the aircrew and passengers aboard a MH-47 Chinook helicopter that was reported shot down by insurgents in eastern Afghanistan June 28, the Defense Department announced today.
"We have recovered all 16 bodies of those servicemen who were onboard," Marine Lt. Gen. James Conway, the Joint Staff's operations director, told reporters at a Pentagon briefing. Original reports had said 17 servicemembers were on the aircraft.
Positive identification of the deceased as well as family notification is ongoing, Conway said. "We do extend our sincere condolences to the families and friends of those servicemembers involved in this incident," he said.
Witnesses reported that an enemy-fired rocket-propelled grenade had struck the helicopter, Conway said. The helicopter, which carried special operations troops, was dispatched to assist in an anti-terrorist operation, Conway said, which he noted is still "ongoing."
Some news reports have speculated that a number of U.S. ground troops may have been captured during the operation. Conway and Pentagon spokesman Lawrence Di Rita told reporters that no U.S. military members involved in the operation have been classified as missing at this point. Di Rita emphasized that it was important not to discuss particulars about the operation until it was completed.
"When we have more to announce, we'll announce it," Di Rita said.