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Carter Offers Condolences to Families of Army, Marine Corps Accident Victims

June 5, 2016

Yesterday in Singapore, Defense Secretary Ash Carter offered his condolences to the families of nine soldiers who were killed during a June 2 training accident at Fort Hood, Texas, and to the family of a Blue Angels pilot who died June 2 when his F/A-18C Hornet aircraft crashed in Smyrna, Tennessee.

This file photo shows a Light Medium Tactical Vehicle from the 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Hood, Texas. Army photo by Sgt. Angel Turner
This file photo shows a Light Medium Tactical Vehicle from the 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Hood, Texas. Army photo by Sgt. Angel Turner
This file photo shows a Light Medium Tactical Vehicle from the 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Hood, Texas. Army photo by Sgt. Angel Turner
truck
This file photo shows a Light Medium Tactical Vehicle from the 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Hood, Texas. Army photo by Sgt. Angel Turner
Photo By: Army
VIRIN: 160603-A-ZZ999-789
Earlier reporting of the Fort Hood incident said that five soldiers assigned to the 1st Cavalry Division had died when a Light Medium Tactical Vehicle overturned during flash flooding at a water crossing. Four more bodies were discovered June 3. Three soldiers were rescued.

“During my trip to Asia, I have been constantly updated on the situation at Fort Hood. I am deeply saddened by the loss of nine brave soldiers in this training accident. This tragedy has touched the 1st Cavalry Division, the Fort Hood community, and the entire Department of Defense. It painfully demonstrates, along with the loss of a Blue Angels ‎pilot this week, the risks our men and women in uniform take on behalf of the American people every day,” Carter said in a statement.

“I am immensely grateful for the efforts of the military and civilian personnel who responded to the Fort Hood incident, and for the safe recovery of three soldiers. We will learn from this incident and do what we can to prevent something like this from happening again,” the secretary said.

Nation Extends its Thoughts, Prayers

Carter added, “To the families, friends and teammates of those lost, an entire nation extends its thoughts and prayers. Though no words can compensate‎ for such a painful and sudden loss, please know that our hearts are joined with yours in grief.”

Investigations of the incidents are underway, he said.

Carter was in Singapore attending the annual Shangri-La Dialogue security conference.

Officials have released the names of the nine soldiers who died during the training accident, according to a Fort Hood news release.

Staff Sgt. Miguel Angel Colonvazquez, 38, of Brooklyn, New York; Spc. Christine Faith Armstrong, 27, of Twentynine Palms, California; Spc. Yingming Sun, 25, of Monterey Park, California; Pfc. Brandon Austin Banner, 22, of Milton, Florida; Pfc. Zachery Nathaniel Fuller, 23, of Palmetto, Florida; Pvt. Isaac Lee Deleon, 19, of San Angelo, Texas; Pvt. Eddy Raelaurin Gates, 20, of Dunn, North Carolina; Pvt. Tysheena Lynette James, 21, of Jersey City, New Jersey; and Cadet Mitchell Alexander Winey, 21, of Valparaiso, Indiana, died in the accident, according to the release. Winey was a member of the United States Military Academy Class of 2018.

The circumstances of the Fort Hood accident are unknown at this time, pending an investigation by a team from the Army Combat Readiness Center at Fort Rucker, Alabama, the release said.

File photo of Marine Corps Capt. Jeff Kuss. Kuss, a member of the Navy’s Blue Angels flight demonstration squadron, died during a practice flight when the F/A-18C Hornet he was piloting crashed approximately two miles from the airport runway at Smyrna, Tenn., June 2, 2016. Navy photo
File photo of Marine Corps Capt. Jeff Kuss. Navy photo
File photo of Marine Corps Capt. Jeff Kuss. Kuss, a member of the Navy’s Blue Angels flight demonstration squadron, died during a practice flight when the F/A-18C Hornet he was piloting crashed approximately two miles from the airport runway at Smyrna, Tenn., June 2, 2016. Navy photo
pilot
File photo of Marine Corps Capt. Jeff Kuss. Navy photo
Photo By: U.S. Navy
VIRIN: 160603-N-SF184-001
Marine Corps Capt. Jeff Kuss, 32, of Durango, Colorado, a member of the Navy’s Blue Angels flight demonstration squadron, died at the start of an air show practice flight when his F/A-18C Hornet aircraft crashed two miles from the Smyrna Airport runway in Tennessee, a Navy news release said.

The aircraft piloted by Kuss crashed at approximately 3:01 p.m., CDT, the Navy release said. Kuss was taking off to start the afternoon practice when the mishap occurred. The other five Blue Angel jets were not involved in the incident and landed safely moments later, the release said.

The Navy will conduct an investigation into the cause of the crash, the release said.

The Navy is deeply saddened by the loss of the pilot, and extends its heartfelt thoughts and prayers to the pilot’s family and those he served with, the release said.

Also on June 2, in Colorado Springs, Colorado, an Air Force pilot, a member of the Thunderbirds flight demonstration team, was forced to eject from his F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft, according to an Air Force news release.

The Air Force aircraft crashed about 5 nautical miles south of Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado, at approximately 1 p.m., according to an Air Combat Command news release. The aircraft had participated in a flyover following the U.S. Air Force Academy commencement, which was attended by President Barack Obama.

The stricken F-16 Fighting Falcon was the No. 6 jet in the formation, according to the news release.

The pilot, Air Force Maj. Alex Turner, ejected safely and received medical attention and was released from a hospital, an Air Force release said.

A U.S Air Force Thunderbirds F-16 Fighting Falcon jet crash landed June 2 in a field near Colorado Springs, Colorado, following the U.S. Air Force Academy commencement. (Courtesy photo)
An Air Force Thunderbirds F-16 Fighting Falcon crash-landed in a field near Colorado Springs, Colorado, following the U.S. Air Force Academy commencement ceremony, June 2, 2016. The pilot ejected safely and received medical attention. Courtesy photo
A U.S Air Force Thunderbirds F-16 Fighting Falcon jet crash landed June 2 in a field near Colorado Springs, Colorado, following the U.S. Air Force Academy commencement. (Courtesy photo)
An Air Force Thunderbirds F-16 Fighting Falcon crash-landed in a field near Colorado Springs, Colorado, following the U.S. Air Force Academy commencement ceremony, June 2, 2016. The pilot ejected safely and received medical attention. Courtesy photo
VIRIN: 160602-F-VY538-001
Obama met with Turner after the crash and thanked him for his service.

“My thoughts are with the pilot, their family and friends and all [of the Thunderbirds personnel],” Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James wrote in a tweet. “Glad to hear [the] pilot is safe.”

The Air Force will perform a thorough investigation into the causes of the mishap, and those findings will be released when the investigation is complete, a release said.

(Editor’s Note: Information for this article provided by the Air Force News Service, Air Combat Command, Naval Air Forces Public Affairs, and Fort Hood Public Affairs.)