Army identifies pilots killed in South Korea Apache helicopter crash
YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — The Army has identified two pilots killed when an AH-64 Apache attack helicopter crashed last month in South Korea.
Chief Warrant Officer 4 Jason McCormack, 43, of Maryland, and Chief Warrant Officer 3 Brandon Smith, 38, of Grand Junction, Colo., were killed Nov. 23 when the helicopter crashed during a routine training mission 50 miles east of Camp Humphreys, the Army said in a statement Monday.
The cause of the accident is under investigation; however, South Korean media has reported that the aircraft appeared to hit a power pylon or high-tension wires attached to it. The upper part of the pylon was damaged, and high-voltage wires were brought down at the crash site, the reports said.
McCormack and Smith were assigned to the 4th Aerial Reconnaissance Battalion (Attack), 2nd Aviation Regiment, 2nd Combat Aviation Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, the statement said.
McCormack, who deployed to Iraq in 2006 and Afghanistan in 2008 and 2011, was an aviation standardization officer.
Smith, who served in Kosovo in 2008 and Afghanistan in 2012, was an instructor pilot.
The crash underscores the inherent danger of flying helicopters, 2nd Combat Aviation Brigade commander Col. Hank Taylor said in the statement.
“Losing a soldier is heartbreaking,” he said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with their families and friends, and we will never forget these fine soldiers.”
Last month, the South Korean government approved the purchase of 36 Apache AH-64E helicopters worth more than $1.56 billion between 2016 and 2018. The purchase is part of an effort to offset North Korean multiple rocket launchers and hovercraft that threaten the South’s northwestern-most islands, according to the Chosun Ilbo newspaper.