In a devastating incident that occurred in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, five courageous members of the U.S. Army Special Operations lost their lives. American officials have verified that these individuals served as crew members on board an MH-60 Black Hawk helicopter. As they were conducting a refueling training mission late last Friday, the helicopter tragically crashed into the waters near the coast of Cyprus. The cause of the crash is currently under investigation by three anonymous U.S. officials, who have chosen to remain confidential due to the sensitivity of ongoing operations.
To prepare for potential assistance in the evacuation of American citizens from the region, the Pentagon has discreetly deployed elite commando teams from the Joint Special Operations Command, including the renowned Army’s Delta Force and the Navy’s SEAL Team 6, to Cyprus. These experienced teams are highly trained in hostage rescue operations and are on standby to provide support if needed. Recent events involving Hamas and their capture of a dozen American hostages have emphasized the importance of having such teams ready for action. While the Biden administration currently has no plans to deploy ground forces to the Gaza Strip, where the Israeli military is conducting major operations, these commando teams remain prepared.
This devastating loss of the helicopter crew members has dealt a significant blow to the Army’s esteemed 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, known as the Night Stalkers. The Night Stalkers played a vital role in executing covert missions by transporting the commandos wherever they were needed.
The Pentagon has officially identified the fallen soldiers as Chief Warrant Officer 3 Stephen R. Dwyer from Clarksville, Tenn.; Chief Warrant Officer 2 Shane M. Barnes from Sacramento; Staff Sgt. Tanner W. Grone from Gorham, N.H.; Sgt. Andrew P. Southard from Apache Junction, Ariz.; and Sgt. Cade M. Wolfe from Mankato, Minn.
Notably, the U.S. aircraft carrier Gerald R. Ford is presently deployed in the eastern Mediterranean Sea near the coast of Israel. The deployment of the aircraft carrier aims to act as a deterrent to Iran and its allies in the region, preventing any further escalation in the ongoing Gaza conflict.
The military’s European Command released a statement on Sunday, confirming the deaths of the five service members and describing the incident as a routine air refueling mission. However, no additional information regarding the crash, the crew, or their specific unit was disclosed, reflecting the secretive nature of their operations.
In response to this tragedy, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III expressed his deep sorrow, saying, “We mourn the tragic loss of five U.S. service members during a training accident in the Mediterranean Sea.” President Biden also honored the fallen soldiers, emphasizing their unwavering dedication to the safety and security of the American people, especially during the observance of Veterans Day weekend.