5 American military members killed in Egypt helicopter crash identified

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JERUSALEM (NewsNation Now) — The United States Army announced Saturday the names of the five American military members killed in a helicopter crash Thursday.

The deceased are:

Capt. Seth Vernon Vandekamp, 31, from Katy, Texas.

Chief Warrant Officer 3 Dallas Gearld Garza, 34, from Fayetteville, North Carolina

Chief Warrant Officer 2 Marwan Sameh Ghabour, 27, from Marlborough, Massachusetts

Staff Sgt. Kyle Robert McKee, 35, from Painesville, Ohio

Sgt. Jeremy Cain Sherman, 23, from Watseka, Illinois

A helicopter belonging to an international peacekeeping force crashed in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula on Thursday, killing at least eight people including several Americans, an Israeli and an Egyptian official said. Both sides said the crash appeared to be an accident.

The helicopter belonged to the Multinational Force and Observers, an international force that monitors the 40-year-old peace agreement between Israel and Egypt.

Those killed were five Americans, a French national and a Czech national, all of them military service members, the MFO said in a statement.

Israeli and Egyptian officials said one survivor was being airlifted to an Israeli hospital. The Associated Press reported that the survivor was an American MFO member. The peacekeeping force flew the survivor into the resort of Eilat, Israel, from where he was then taken by an Israeli copter to a hospital further north. The survivor later died.

An Egyptian official said the UH-60 Black Hawk was on a reconnaissance mission and crashed near the island of Tiran.

A Black Hawk UH-60 helicopter flys by while participating in the Saber Junction 20 military exercises at the Hohenfels training grounds on August 10, 2020 near Hohenfels, Germany. This is the type of helicopter involved in the crash in Egypt that killed six Americans. Photo by Lennart Preiss/Getty Images

Both sides said the crash appeared to be caused by a technical failure and there were no signs of the aircraft being attacked. Islamic militant groups affiliated with the Islamic State group are known to be active in Sinai.

The MFO statement did not give further details of the crash but described Thursday’s mission as “routine”.

The Israeli military said in a statement it had offered to send a rescue team to the crash site.

President-elect Joe Biden issued a statement on Twitter about the six Americans killed.

“I extend my deep condolences to the loved ones of the peacekeepers, including 6 American service members, who died on Tiran Island, and wish a speedy recovery to the surviving American,” Biden said in a tweet. “I join all Americans in honoring their sacrifice, as I keep their loved ones in my prayers.”

President Donald Trump had not yet issued a statement by Thursday afternoon.

In recent years, Washington has been assessing to what extent the United States should participate in the MFO, especially as military coordination between Israel and Egypt has tightened to help beat back an Islamist-led insurgency in the Sinai.

According to its website, the MFO has 1,154 military personnel from the United States and 12 other countries covering an area of more than 3,860 square miles in the Sinai. Some 452 of the personnel are American. Its responsibilities include monitoring troop levels along the border and ensuring the freedom of navigation through the Strait of Tiran.

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