A Colville man was one of four soldiers killed when two helicopters crashed Monday in northern Iraq.
Chief Warrant Officer Benjamin H. Todd, 29, was flying one of the Kiowa Warrior helicopters that crashed in Iraq’s Tamim province.
Todd was married and had a child, the Defense Department said in the statement.
Todd attended Colville High School from 1996 to 1998, Principal Kevin Knight said.
He enlisted in the Army in 2000 and was stationed at Fort Drum, N.Y., in 2007 as a Kiowa helicopter pilot, the Defense Department statement said. Todd was deployed in Iraq last October.
The armed reconnaissance helicopters that crashed early Monday morning. U.S. military officials in Iraq said the crash did not “appear to be by enemy action.”
They didn’t say whether the helicopters collided.
A Sunni insurgent group claimed that it shot down the helicopters, the Associated Press reported Tuesday.
The group, the Army of the Men of al-Nakshabandia Order, made the claim on a Web site but said they had shot down two Blackhawk helicopters with rockets and killed more than 20 people.
The Kiowa is a smaller helicopter, and while the Army said the crashes remained under investigation, they reiterated that enemy fire did not appear to be involved.
Investigations into helicopter crashes typically take weeks or months, not days, said a spokeswoman for Fort Drum, where all four soldiers were based.
Also killed were Chief Warrant Officer Joshua M. Tillery, 31, of Beaverton, Ore.; Chief Warrant Officer Philip E. Windorski Jr., 35, of Bovey, Minn.; and Chief Warrant Officer Matthew G. Kelley, 30, of Cameron, Mo.
All four have been awarded the Bronze Star, spokeswoman Julie Cupernall added.
All were pilots assigned to the 6th Squadron, 6th Cavalry Regiment, 10th Combat Aviation Brigade, 10th Mountain Division, based in Fort Drum.
The Kiowa is a two-pilot aircraft, used primarily for gathering information from the air for ground troops.
The aircraft is also used to carry small numbers of soldiers, for emergency evacuations of wounded people and for delivering cargo.