On Monday, the U.S. Army Special Operations Command named the five Army aviation special operations forces who perished in the Eastern Mediterranean helicopter crash over the weekend. Describing them as “national treasures,” the command expressed the profound impact of their loss.
The fallen service members are Chief Warrant Officer 3 Stephen R. Dwyer, 38, from Clarksville, Tennessee; Chief Warrant Officer 2 Shane M. Barnes, 34, from Sacramento, California; Staff Sgt. Tanner W. Grone, 26, from Gorham, New Hampshire; Sgt. Andrew P. Southard, 27, from Apache Junction, Arizona; and Sgt. Cade M. Wolfe, 24, from Mankato, Minnesota.
All of the fallen soldiers belonged to the Army’s 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment stationed at Fort Campbell, Kentucky.
🚨BlackHawk Down! A US Army UH-60 Black Hawk
Helicopter with 5 US Army Special Forces Soldiers
aboard suffers a “Mishap” and Crashes into the
Eastern Mediterranean Sea during a Aerial Refueling
Training Exercise Operation. All 5 US Army Special
Forces Troops were Killed in… pic.twitter.com/f6RpiE8tzr
— “Robin Dale” (Celtic🍀Warrior) USA🇺🇸 Ireland🇮🇪 (@CelticDale) November 13, 2023
Lt. Gen. Jonathan Braga, leader of the Army Special Operations Command, released a statement on Monday saying, “This is devastating news that reverberates across the entire Special Operations community. Every loss is tough, but in this case, service to the nation is truly a family business, and it’s hard to express the amount of sorrow that we all feel right now.”
The deceased soldiers, having earned numerous decorations, carried a record of multiple combat deployments.
Commissioned in 2009 from the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, New York, Stephen Dwyer fulfilled roles as an MH-60M pilot, mission planner, and instructor pilot. He undertook deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan and responded to multiple no-notice deployments in support of national security objectives, as stated by the Army Special Operations Command. Among his numerous accolades are the Bronze Star Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal, and the Air Medal with Combat device.
Also serving as an MH-60M pilot, Shane Barnes graduated from Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington, in 2011. His assignments included Korea, and he fulfilled deployments to both Afghanistan and Iraq. Barnes earned accolades such as the Distinguished Flying Cross with Valor device and the Air Medal with Combat device, along with other campaign awards.
Joining the Army in 2017 as a UH-60 repairer, Tanner Grone assumed roles as a flight instructor and MH-60M crew chief for the 160th. He carried out deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq multiple times. Grone received several awards, including the Air Medal with Combat device, the Army Commendation Medal, and the Army Achievement Medal with Combat device, among numerous others.
Andrew Southard joined the Army in 2015 as a UH-60 repairer and later served as an MH-60M crew chief. Following advanced individual training, he was initially stationed at Fort Bliss, Texas, and later completed a 13-month rotation to Task Force Sinai, contributing to peacekeeping operations. Southard deployed to Afghanistan, earning two Army Commendation Medals and an Army Achievement Medal, among other recognitions.
Cade Wolfe enlisted in the Army in 2018 as a UH-60 repairer and served as an MH-60M crew chief. His accolades include two Army Commendation Medals and an Army Achievement Medal.