Five members of the U.S. Army Special Operations forces lost their lives in a Black Hawk helicopter crash in the eastern Mediterranean Sea. The ill-fated MH-60 Black Hawk military chopper was engaged in a refueling training mission late Friday when it experienced an in-flight emergency and crashed off the coast of Cyprus. There were no survivors.
The U.S. Army Special Operations Command identified the five Army Soldiers who perished as:
- Chief Warrant Officer 3 Stephen R. Dwyer, 38 (Clarksville, Tennessee)
- Chief Warrant Officer 2 Shane M. Barnes, 34 (Sacramento, California)
- Staff Sgt. Tanner W. Grone, 26 (Gorham, New Hampshire)
- Sgt. Andrew P. Southard, 27 (Apache Junction, Arizona)
- Sgt. Cade M. Wolfe, 24 (Mankato, Minnesota)
Lt. Gen. Jonathan Braga, the commander of the Army Special Operations Command, described each Soldier as a "national treasure," adding that the loss of life has deeply affected the military community. The Black Hawk helicopter crew members were highly skilled members of the Army's prestigious 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, commonly known as the Night Stalkers. They play a crucial role in transporting the commandos on clandestine missions.
In response to this devastating event, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III expressed his deep sorrow, stating, "[w]e mourn the tragic loss of five U.S. service members during a training accident in the Mediterranean Sea." President Biden, taking note of the significance of Veterans Day, saluted the fallen heroes, emphasizing their unwavering commitment to safeguarding the American people.
What Caused the 2023 Army Helicopter Crash Off Cypress?
The cause of the November 10, 2023, Black Hawk crash is under investigation. It will likely take a year or more before the investigation is complete and the military reports on the cause.
Wisner Baum aviation attorney Timothy A. Loranger, a Marine veteran, who worked on military aircraft spoke to the media following this tragedy to discuss what may have happened.
“There is very little information available at the moment, so we really can’t speculate on what happened,” Loranger says. “The helicopter was operated by the 160th SOAR, which is the Army’s most elite aviation unit. They are highly trained and skilled, so an incident like this is even more confounding. We will have to wait to see what the military finds in the investigation.”
According to Loranger, military families cannot pursue legal cases against the military because of the Feres Doctrine. However, if the investigation reveals that the crash was caused by a mechanical failure, families may be able to pursue cases against the company that manufactured the part or component that failed.
Victims of Black Hawk Crash in Mediterranean Identified
On Monday, the Army identified the highly decorated soldiers. All had multiple combat deployments and were known for their ability to respond to deployments with no notice.
Chief Warrant Officer 3 Stephen R. Dwyer: Received his commission from the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, New York, in 2009. He had an impressive career as an MH-60M pilot, mission planner, and instructor pilot, with deployments to both Iraq and Afghanistan. His accolades include the Bronze Star Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal, and the Air Medal with Combat device, among others.
Chief Warrant Officer 2 Shane M. Barnes: An MH-60M pilot, graduated from Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington, in 2011. He was assigned to Korea and participated in deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq, earning him the Distinguished Flying Cross with Valor device and the Air Medal with Combat device, among other campaign awards.
Staff Sgt. Tanner W. Grone: Joined the Army in 2017 as a UH-60 repairer. He served as a flight instructor and MH-60M crew chief for the 160th. Staff Sgt. Grone achieved deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq and was honored with the Air Medal with Combat device, the Army Commendation Medal, and the Army Achievement Medal with combat device, among others.
Sgt. Andrew P. Southard: Enlisted in the Army in 2015 as a UH-60 repairer and also served as an MH-60M crew chief. He completed a 13-month rotation to Task Force Sinai in support of ongoing peacekeeping operations and deployed to Afghanistan. Southard received two Army Commendation medals and an Army Achievement medal, among other citations.
Sgt. Cade M. Wolfe: Enlisted in the Army in 2018 as a UH-60 repairer and served as an MH-60M crew chief. He earned two Army Commendation medals and an Army Achievement medal.
Wisner Baum Military Accident Lawyers
At Wisner Baum, we understand the tremendous risks that men and women in uniform face when operating military aircraft in complex environments. While they protect and serve our country, they should not have to rely on equipment that fails due to negligence or design defects. Our Armed Forces have lost too many brave men and women due to faulty manufacturing, design flaws, or maintenance negligence.
If you would like to speak with an experienced military accident lawyer about your case, we are here to help. Led by military veteran Timothy A. Loranger, our team of attorneys has vast experience representing military families in litigation against defense contractors.