KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — A Black Hawk helicopter loaded with U.S. troops
- including a pilot from Bloomington (Ill.)- crashed in a troubled Afghan province on Thursday, killing one crew member and injuring 12, the military said.
First Lt. Christopher Marvin , 25, was seriously injured in the crash, according to his father, Mike Marvin of Bloomington.
*(Editor’s note: Lt. Marvin is a 2001 graduate of Notre Dame.)
- The elder Marvin, himself a retired Army colonel and former helicopter pilot, said the family doesn’t know the nature of his injuries or the circumstances of the crash.
Lt. Marvin is being treated in Afghanistan and likely will be moved to Landstuhl Army Hospital in Germany after his condition is stabilized, his father said. He said he didn’t know when that would be.
“We’re anxious, which is reasonable, but he’s getting the best care he can get anywhere,” Mike Marvin said. “He’s in good hands.”
Officials ruled out rebel fire. But the incident highlights the dangers for troops still hunting Taliban and al-Qaida militants nearly three years after the start of America’s war on terror.
“The helicopter was destroyed in the crash, but did not burn,” the military said in a statement. “Hostile fire was not involved. The cause of the crash is under investigation.”
The injured troops — three soldiers and nine Marines — were taken to Camp Salerno, an American base near Khost city, 90 miles south of Kabul, for treatment.
The four most seriously wounded were flown on to the main U.S. base north of Kabul, the statement said. It didn’t elaborate.
Lt. Marvin has been based at Kabul since he left for Afghanistan in April as part of the 25th Infantry Division (Light), which is based at Schofield Barracks in Hawaii. His father said he doesn’t know what his son’s duties are in Afghanistan.
“We’re very proud of all the men and women serving in the Armed Forces and their willingness to put themselves in harm’s way for us,” Mike Marvin said. “Without them out there, we wouldn’t be here.”
The military initially said that the fatality was a Marine but later issued a correction, saying one of the Army helicopter’s four-member crew had died. The other servicemen on board, both Marines, were not hurt.
More than 130 American soldiers have died since U.S. forces entered Afghanistan in 2001 as part of Operation Enduring Freedom to drive the Taliban from power and attack its al-Qaida allies.
Many of the soldiers have been killed in accidents, including several deadly helicopter crashes. In the most recent crash, five soldiers died near Bagram in November.
This year, at least 23 Americans have died in combat, making 2004 the deadliest combat year yet. Two soldiers and their Afghan translator were killed by a roadside bomb on Saturday.
Khost, a former al-Qaida stronghold in a swath of territory along the Pakistani border where the Taliban-led insurgency is strongest, has seen some of the heaviest fighting.