Victoria E. Freile, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle
Published 12: 20 p.m. ET Jan. 21, 2021 | Updated 1: 17 p.m. ET Jan. 21, 2021
Three National Guard members on a training trip had been killed Wednesday when their helicopter crashed in a farmer’s field in western New York. The UH-60 Black Hawk medical evacuation helicopter went down during a training flight. (Jan. 21)
ROCHESTER, N.Y. — The remains of three National Guard members killed Wednesday night at a military helicopter crash were removed from the site Thursday afternoon and hauled to a medical examiner’s office.
A New York Army National Guard UH-60 medical evacuation helicopter crashed on a routine training mission after 6: 30 p.m. EST Wednesday in a field in Mendon.
The helicopter, a Black Hawk, was based at the Army Aviation Support Facility at Greater Rochester International Airport.
Two multi-vehicle motorcades escorted the deceased soldiers throughout several Monroe County communities Thursday. Sheriff’s spokeswoman Amy Young said the first procession took two soldiers and the next departed Mendon with the body of the third soldier about 90 moments later.
According to preliminary 911 reports,”there were calls of sputtering sounds of an engine and that the aircraft was flying very low, more low than normal,” Monroe County Sheriff Todd Baxter said.
Shortly after the calls, there were reports of a crash.
The helicopter crashed into an area. It did not appear that any of those homes nearby were ruined.
Mendon Fire Chief Bill Kessler said the helicopter was on fire when first responders arrived.
Baxter said authorities contacted the control tower in the Greater Rochester International Airport but hadn’t reviewed whether those on board the helicopter had been communicating with anybody in the tower in the time of their crash.
The helicopter’s flight path was not immediately available.
A National Guard spokesman stated that soldiers routinely conduct training flights from the Rochester airport, departing and returning to the site as teams must keep a certain number of flying hours every month.
A difficult blow to’a very tightknit unit’
The names of those three people killed in the wreck had not been released at Thursday morning. Authorities confirmed that both were the only individuals on board the helicopter.
The aircraft was assigned to C Company of the 1st Battalion, 171st General Support Aviation Battalion, according to the New York State Division of Military and Naval Affairs.
The unit includes about 80 soldiers, many of whom reside in the Rochester area, and is part of an air ambulance company. Normally, the airmen’s project is to recover and evacuate injured soldiers.
“This is a very tightknit unit,” Baxter said, and a lot of people and family reacted to the National Guard Center on the backside of the airport Wednesday. “This is a heavy, heavy burden upon all of us.”
A U.S. Army veteran, Baxter explained,”These are our freedom providers… just showing again that freedom is not free. We