Army safety investigators will try to determine whether the crew of the 4th Infantry Division UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter that crashed Monday near Bruceville-Eddy checked the Federal Aviation Administration database that showed that the warning lights were not operational on the KXXV-TV transmission tower.
The helicopter crashed and burned Monday after striking some tower support wires.
The warning lights on the tower had been out of commission since heavy storms rumbled through the area last week.
KXXV General Manager Jerry Pursley said the station notified the Federal Aviation Administration last week after heavy storms knocked out the warning lights on the tower.
The warning was included in what pilots call NOTAMs, or notices to airmen, as part of an FAA database that may be accessed either by phone or over the Internet.
The tower advisory was among NOTAMs listed for the McGregor Airport, but it was not part of the listings for either of the airports on Fort Hood.
Investigators were sifting through the wreckage Tuesday while the Army released the names of the seven soldiers who died in the crash.
Brig. Gen. Charles B. Allen, 49, and six other 4th Infantry Division soldiers died Monday in the crash.
Allen was an assistant commander of Fort Hood’s 4th Infantry Division who was promoted to brigadier general last year.
Division Support Commander Col. James Moore was also aboard the helicopter.
Also killed in the crash were 26-year-old Capt. Todd T. Christmas, 48-year-old CWO-5 Douglas V. Clapp, 32-year-old CWO-2 David H. Gardner, Jr., 27-year-old CWO-2 Mark W. Evans, Jr. and 29-year-old Specialist Richard L. Brown.
Gardner and Evans were the pilots of the helicopter, which clipped support wires on the KXXV-TV transmission tower and crashed and burned in a nearby field.
Christmas was a Texas A&M University graduate who had just returned to Fort Hood after spending the Thanksgiving holiday with his family in New Mexico.
He was a member of A&M’s Corps of Cadets.
Christmas, who served a one-year tour of duty in Iraq, was a career military man who died doing what he loved, said family friend Patti Goetsch.
The 4th Infantry Division soldiers were on a flight from Fort Hood to Texarkana when the helicopter went down in heavy fog early Monday morning.
One witness who said the helicopter erupted in a fall of fire and then exploded after it hit the ground.
The fuselage came to rest several hundred yards from the KXXV-TV tower. Other parts of the helicopter were scattered across the field.
Investigators from the Army Safety Center at Fort Rucker, Ala. arrived Monday at the crash site.
They are expected to focus on both the weather and on the tower’s broken warning lights, which stopped working after severe storms rumbled through the area last week.
Fourth Infantry Division Public Affairs Officer Lt. Col Jonathan Withington, who confirmed the deaths of the soldiers Monday afternoon, would not comment on whether the weather or the warning lights may have played a role in the crash.
The twin-turbine Blackhawk has been a military workhorse for two decades.
It’s capable of carrying a full 11-member infantry squad in addition to the three-member crew.
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION ABOUT CRASH VICTIMS
(Source: American Forces Press Service)
Brig. Gen. Charles B. Allen, 49, assistant division commander
for support. Allen, who was born in Alaska and listed his home of record as Oklahoma, entered the Army in May 1977 and received his initial training as a field artillery officer.
Col. James M. Moore, 47, commander of the Division Support
Command. A native of Peabody, Mass., he entered the Army in September 1980.
Capt. Todd. T. Christmas, 26, an air defense artillery officer
assigned to the division's Headquarters and Headquarters Company, Special Troops Battalion. A native of New Mexico, he entered the Army in August 2001.
Chief Warrant Officer 5 Douglas V. Clapp, 48, a senior
division automotive maintenance officer. Clapp, who was born in Lebanon, Pa., and listed his home of record as Greensboro, N.C., entered the Army in August 1974.
Chief Warrant Officer 2 David H. Gardner Jr., 32, a helicopter
pilot assigned to the division's A Company, 2nd Battalion, 4th Aviation Regiment.
Gardner, who was born in Germany and listed Iowa as his home of record, entered the Army in October 1992. Gardner served in Iraq from October 2003 to April 2004.
Chief Warrant Officer 2 Mark W. Evans Jr., 27, a helicopter
pilot assigned to A Company, 2nd Battalion, 4th Aviation Regiment. Evans, who was born in Michigan and listed his home of record as Florida, entered the Army in November 1995. Evans served in Iraq from November 2003 to April 2004.
Spc. Richard L. Brown, 29, a helicopter mechanic assigned to
the division's Headquarters and Headquarters Company. Brown was born in Kansas and listed Stonewall, La., as his home of record. Brown served in Iraq from March 2003 to March 2004.
RECENT TEXAS MILITARY AIRCRAFT CRASHES
March 1985: Six crewmen die when a C-130 from Little Rock, Ark., crashes near Fort Hood, Texas.
June 22, 1987: Ten killed when a UH-1 ``Huey'' helicopter crashes during a low-level orientation flight at Fort Hood.
Feb. 25, 1988: Ten killed and eight burned when a Chinook CH-47D helicopter crashes near Chico during a routine flight from Fort Hood to Fort Sill, Okla.
Oct. 15, 1989: Two killed when an F-16 crashes during a training mission at Carswell Air Force Base in Fort Worth.
June 24, 1991: An Air Force T-38 trainer jet crashes while attempting to
land at Sheppard A.F.B., killing a student pilot and Italian NATO instructor.
Nov. 30, 1992: All four crewmembers of a B-1B bomber, based at Dyess Air Force Base in Abilene, killed during a low-flying training mission in West Texas.
Dec. 23, 1992: One crewmember killed when a Navy Reserve F-14, assigned to Dallas Naval Air Station went down near Comanche, Texas.
May 24, 1993: An F-16 pilot was killed when his plane went down in a rural area near Mineral Wells.
Jan. 25, 1994: An Army helicopter crashed northwest of Killeen during a training mission, killing two pilots on board.
Aug. 17, 1994: A student pilot is killed when two T-45 training jets
assigned to Naval Air Station Kingsville collide.
Feb. 14, 1995: An instructor pilot, assigned to Naval Air Station Corpus
Christi, died when his plane crashed into the Gulf of Mexico during a routine training mission.
April 24, 1995: Five killed when a CH-47 Delta Chinook helicopter crashes near Florence in Williamson County.
May 31, 1995: Two civilians killed when a T-38 Talon training jet crashes into an apartment building in Wichita Falls. The two crewmembers ejected safely.
Dec. 04, 1997: Both crewmembers die in crash of Ft Hood AH64 Apache in San Saba County. Copter was assigned to the Fourth Infantry Division.