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Army ends search for wreckage, remains from Black Hawk crash off Oahu

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A search and rescue for the UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter carrying five crew members of the 25th Combat Aviation Brigade at Wheeler Army Airfield began Aug. 16 after the helicopter went down off of Oahu’s Kaena Point the previous night. Pictured is a HFD rescue crew member handing off retrieved debris to U.S. Army personnel at the command center in Haleiwa.

The Army said today that operations to retrieve wreckage and crew from a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter that crashed at sea off Kaena Point Aug. 15 have ended with only trace remains of the five soldiers aboard recovered.

“Families were notified within the last 24 hours,” said Master Sgt. Jason Stadel, a 25th Infantry Division spokesman.

The Army said in a release that it ended the month-long recovery and salvage operation after determining “it was unlikely additional aircrew remains would be found. Additionally, investigators determined enough physical and visual evidence had been collected to allow a thorough investigation into the crash.”

Officials in late August declared as deceased Chief Warrant Officer 3 Brian M. Woeber, 41, and Chief Warrant Officer 2 Stephen T. Cantrell, 32. Both were pilots. The Armed Forces Medical Examiner previously made the determination for 1st Lt. Kathryn M. Bailey, 26; Staff Sgt. Abigail R. Milam, 33; and Sgt. Michael L. Nelson, 30, after trace remains discovered among floating debris were matched to their DNA.

“Between the search and rescue and the recovery and salvage, we have found trace remains of all five (crew),” said 25th Division spokesman Lt. Col. Curt Kellogg.

The Black Hawk was on a routine nighttime training mission flying some distance behind another helicopter when it disappeared without a mayday call. It was reported missing at about 9:30 p.m. Floating pieces of the fuselage and four flight crew helmets were subsequently located.

Recovery and salvage operations began Aug. 21 after a U.S. Coast Guard-led search and rescue operation was suspended without locating the aircrew or the helicopter.

U.S. Army Pacific and the Army’s Combat Readiness Center are investigating the crash.

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