A Crash in Philippines



An E Model Chinook patrols the coastal waters.

             An MH-47E "Chinook" helicopter, similar to the one pictured above, has crashed in Philippines.



          Thursday, 21 February 2002, 5:33 PM ADST


Nightstalkers Unit Crest.
   A U.S. Army special forces helicopter with 10 American troops aboard crashed in the Philippines on Thursday and no survivors were found, as U.S. forces backed a thrust
          by Manila's military against Muslim rebels as part of Washington's war on terrorism.

             "A total of 10 U.S. military personnel, including eight crew members, were on board," Navy Lt. Cmdr. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman explained.

             The Pentagon said no hostile fire was reported when the crash occurred and that the big, twin-rotor MH-47E chopper crashed into the sea in darkness while flying from Basilan Island to Mactan Air Base.

             The air base at Mactan is a logistics base for the anti-terrorist training operation being conducted by U.S. forces on Basilan.

             Two Chinook helicopters delivered the last of 160 U.S. special forces troops to Basilan about 3 1/2 hours before the crash, Colonel Alexander Aleo, commander of the Philippine military's 103rd brigade headquarters on Basilan, explained.

             Davis said he did not know if the helicopter that crashed was part of that mission. "No survivors have been found," he said. "There were no reports of hostile fire."

             MH-47Es are upgraded versions of CH-47 "Chinook" troop carrying helicopter and are configured for night operations and other work by elite soldiers. Dozens of such troops have been sent to the Philippines to train Manila's forces.

             A total of 22 American troops have already died in or near Afghanistan in a four month old U.S. military thrust there - the first leg of a U.S war on terrorism sparked by the 11 September 2001 attacks on America. Few of those deaths have been in military action. The U.S. Pacific Command said the helicopter went down about 150 miles northeast of Zamboanga City in the southern Philippines at 2:30 a.m. local time on Friday, 22 February 2002 (1:30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time [EST] Thursday, 21 February 2002). The MH-47E "Chinook" helicopter was flying a routine resupply mission from the island of Basilan in the southern Philippines to the tiny islet of Mactan near the city of Cebu, Davis said. It crashed in a gulf north of Basilan.



Photograph of the MH-47E a few days before the fatal accident.

             Above, a photograph of sister ship Boeing MH-47E Chinook 92-00470 taken in the Philippines a few days before the fatal accident.






             The Hawaii-based command said that another "Chinook" helicopter was flying with the chopper that crashed and remained in the area to conduct a search. A U.S. Navy P-3 "Orion" aircraft and an Air Force C-130 had joined the effort.

             The incident occurred as a growing number of American forces were arriving in the Philippines to take part in training exercises in which Manila's military is conducting a stepped-up battle against Muslim rebels in the Asian nation.

             Some 6,000 Philippine troops are on the southern Philippine island of Basilan and 160 U.S. special forces will be there until June to train them. Another 500 U.S. support personnel will be in the nearby city of Zamboanga and in the central city of Cebu.

             Sparked by the attacks on America, the United States launched a major military effort against Taliban forces and the al Qaeda guerrilla network in Afghanistan in October. It recently began a build-up of up to 600 troops in the Philippines.

             U.S. special forces troops moved into the southern Philippines last month for joint exercises with the Philippine military aimed at wiping out Abu Sayyaf guerrillas, linked by Washington to fugitive Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network.

             Bin Laden is blamed by Washington for masterminding the September attacks using hijacked airliners on Washington and New York's World Trade Center that killed more than 3,000 people.



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Members of the U.S. Special Forces and their Filipino counterparts board a U.S. Army MH-47E in the Philippines.


             Members of the U.S. Special Forces and their Filipino counterparts board a U.S. Army MH-47E "Chinook" helicopter under tight security inside a military base Sunday, 17 February 2002, in Zamboanga, southern Philippines. The Special Forces will be stationed in Basilan island to train Filipino soldiers as part of the joint military exercise between the Philippines and the United States aimed at wiping out the Muslim group, the Abu Sayyaf.



Two U.S. MH-47E Chinook helicopters prepare to land to pick up members of the U.S. Special Forces at a military base in the Philippines.


             Two U.S. MH-47E Chinook helicopters prepare to land to pick up members of the U.S. Special Forces at a military base on 17 February 2002 in Zamboanga, southern Philippines.



Search operations have been launched for a missing U.S Army MH-47E.


             Search operations have been launched for a U.S Army MH-47E "Chinook" helicopter with 10 U.S. troops on board which crashed in the sea in the southern Philippines on 22 February 2002, a local military spokesman said. The helicopter was flying from the island of Basilan, a Muslim guerrilla stronghold where U.S. special forces have been deploying, to a base in the central city of Cebu. A U.S. Army MH-47E helicopter, a close relative of a CH-47, takes off after unloading U.S. troops in the Philippine Army's Tabiawan camp near the town of Isabela, on Basilan island in this 17 February 2002 photograph.



Two U.S. Special Forces stand guard with their firearms as other members board a U.S. MH-47E in the Philippines.


             Two U.S. Special Forces stand guard with their firearms as other members board a U.S. MH-47E "Chinook" helicopter at a military base Sunday, 17 February 2002, in Zamboanga, southern Philippines. Air Force Staff Sergeant Juan M. Ridout is person on the right.



Planned flight path of ill-fated MH-47E.


             A U.S. Army special forces helicopter crashed in the Philippines with 10 American soldiers on board 22 February 2002 and radio and television stations said fishermen had plucked up to three survivors from the sea. The helicopter came down in the Bohol Sea during the night on a flight from the southern island of Basilan, where U.S. forces are working with Philippine troops hunting Muslim rebels in the latest extension of Washington's war on terrorism.



          Thursday, 21 February 2002, 8:44 PM ADST



             MANILA - At least three of the 10 American soldiers on board a U.S. special forces helicopter which crashed in the sea in the southern Philippines on Friday were killed, police said.

             A US army helicopter involved in anti-terrorism exercises in the Philippines exploded in mid-air and crashed into the sea Friday, a Filipino military spokesman said.

             A senior police official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said three bodies were washed up on a beach near the crash site in the Bohol Strait, 410 miles south of Manila.

             Television stations said at least three others were believed rescued by fishermen, but there was no independent confirmation of the reports. "Fishermen in the area heard a loud explosion and saw the helicopter plunge into the sea on fire," local military spokesman Captain Enrico Canaya said in a radio interview.

             There was no immediate word on what happened to the others. Eight crew and two passengers were on board Chinook MH-47E helicopter, tail number 92-00471.



          Friday, 22 February 2002, 6:23 AM ADST



             APO ISLAND, Philippines - A U.S. Army helicopter participating in anti-terrorism exercises with Philippine troops crashed into the sea early Friday with 10 Americans aboard, a U.S. official said. Three bodies were recovered.

             The cause of the crash was unknown, however the MH-47E Chinook helicopter appeared to be burning when it went down, witnesses said. U.S. and Philippine officials say it was not hit by rebel fire. It was carrying eight crew and two passengers.

             "We have found no survivors from the mishap aircraft," said Brig. Gen. Donald Wurster, head of the U.S. contingent. "We, of course, hope they are alive and we are doing everything with our Philippine friends to find them."

             Officials said the helicopter had finished three night flights between Zamboanga, home to the Philippine military's Southern Command, and nearby Basilan, an Abu Sayyaf stronghold.

             The ill-fated helicopter left Zamboanga with another chopper at 12:53 a.m. (11:53 a.m. EST) for a two-hour flight to Mactan, an islet near the city of Cebu where the United States has a supply base for the Basilan mission, Lt. Col. Danilo Servando said.

             Wurster said the first indication that something was amiss came at 2:34 a.m. (1:34 p.m. EST). Seven minutes later, two crewmen from the second helicopter jumped into the tropical waters to search, unsuccessfully, for survivors.

             Fishing boat skippers Ricardo Zamora and Joel Lasola said they were about seven miles away when the helicopter went down.

             "At the time of the incident, they saw a big fire that fell into the sea, and as the fire touched the water, there was an explosion," said a police report based on their account.

             Some debris and an oil slick were spotted five nautical miles from tiny Apo island in the Bohol Sea in the southern Philippines. Coast Guard Lt. Armand Balilo said one of the helicopter's rotors had been found.



          Friday, 22 February 2002, 7:11 PM ADST



             FORT CAMPBELL, Kentucky - The eight Army soldiers presumed dead Friday after their helicopter crashed into the sea in the southern Philippines were members of an elite special forces regiment depicted in the new film "Black Hawk Down."

             The 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, based at Fort Campbell, slips special forces commandos behind enemy lines aboard Black Hawk and Chinook helicopters. The regiment earned the nickname "Night Stalkers" because of its ability to strike undetected in the darkness.

             "The 160th has specialized training with night vision and flying in all kinds of weather," said 1st Lt. Marie Hatch, spokeswoman for the 160th. "They were going in to assist in the operation that is going on in the Philippines."

             The other two members aboard were Air Force para-rescue jumpers, said Major Paul Fitzpatrick, an Army spokesman at Fort Campbell, which is 50 miles north of Nashville, Tennessee.

             Air crews from the 160th are trained to operate 30 feet above water, at night, using night vision goggles in a hostile environment, according an Army publication.

             A 1993 mission in Somalia involving the 160th is the subject of "Black Hawk Down." Eighteen American soldiers died before the mission was aborted.

             The regiment was formed in 1981 to focus on low-level, night operations in response to the failed hostage rescue mission in Iran the year before.

             The 1,500-member force was first used in hostile conditions in Grenada in 1983 and has since participated in missions around the globe in nations such as Panama, Iraq and Bosnia.

             Colonel Richard Polczynski, commander of the 160th, said Friday the eight crew members lived up to the regiment's motto: "Night Stalkers don't quit."

             "Night Stalkers believe in our mission and recognize the volatile nature of our world. Our mission as soldiers is inherently dangerous and accidents occur," Polczynski said. "It does not make our loss easier, but it is a reality that each of us faces daily."

             The cause of the crash was unknown, but early suspicions focused on mechanical failure; the Philippine military ruled out hostile fire.



          Friday, 22 February 2002, 8:13 PM ADST



             WASHINGTON - The U.S. Army has released the names of the missing.

             From the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (SOAR), based at Fort Campbell, Kentucky:



MAJ Curtis D. Feistner


          MAJ Curtis D. Feistner



          CPT Bartt D. Owens



          CWO Jody L. Egnor



SSG James P. Dorrity.


             U.S. Army Staff Sgt. James P. Dorrity, of Goldsboro, N.C., shown in an undated handout photo. Dorrity was 37.



          SSG Kerry W. Frith



          SSG Bruce A. Rushforth, Jr.



          SGT Jeremy D. Foshee



          SPC Thomas F. Allison



             From the 320th Special Tactics Squadron, 353rd Special Operations Group, United States Air Force, located at Kadena Air Base, Japan:



          Master Sgt. William L. McDaniel II



SSGT Juan M. Ridout.


          Staff Sgt. Juan M. Ridout (Right)



          Saturday, 23 February 2002, 9:00 AM ADST



A Philippines Navy patrol boat continues a 24-hour search and rescue mission.


             A Philippines Navy patrol boat continues a 24-hour search and rescue mission to find seven missing U.S. military soldiers from a downed helicopter, Saturday, 23 February 2002, off the southern Philippines island of Apo, 241 kilometers (150 miles) north of Zamboanga island.



             ABOARD GUNBOAT 370, Philippines - Search teams scanning a deep sea in the southern Philippines for a second day Saturday found little debris and no of survivors from a U.S. military helicopter that crashed with 10 American servicemen on board.

             A U.S. statement said a special team of investigators from the United States Army Safety Center, located at Fort Rucker, Alabama, will arrive soon to help determine what went wrong. U.S. and Philippine military officials said the helicopter was not hit by hostile fire.

             The helicopter's emergency beacon was believed to be about 600 feet under water. Parts of the sea floor in the area are twice that deep, local residents say.

             The search extended Saturday to several miles in every direction from the crash site two miles southwest of Apo island, a marine reserve renowned for diving. A command post was being established on Negros island, three to five miles from the crash site, officials said.

             A sailor on a small Philippine gunboat scanned the turquoise waters Saturday as a search helicopter flew over beaches where foreign tourists frolicked.

             The search amounts mostly to looking at the water surface, scanning beaches from the air and talking to fishermen for reports of debris sightings among the coral, rocks and white sands of the region sprinkled with hilly, palm-studded islets.

             By late Saturday, the search had yielded a rotor, a fuse box, the fuselage, a pilot's helmet, a seat and the landing gear. Powerful currents and tides can shift wreckage for kilometers miles overnight.



          Saturday, 23 February 2002, 10:55 PM ADST



             ZAMBOANGA, Philippines - All 10 U.S. servicemen aboard a military helicopter that crashed two days ago in the southern Philippines are believed to be dead, an American general said Sunday.

             "We have determined that there is no chance to find survivors," said Brig. Gen. Donald Wurster, head of a U.S. military contingent involved in a counter-terrorism exercise in the southern Philippines.

             He said the rescue effort had shifted to a recovery mission at the crash site in the Bohol Sea off Negros island.

             At least three bodies were recovered during a search that includes three Navy ships, a Coast Guard vessel, six helicopters and nine motorized outriggers.

             More than 200 rescue workers shifted the search to 120 miles from the crash site as debris reached the open sea and dispersed in strong currents and brisk southeasterly winds, officials said.

             Philippine air force Brigadier General Marciano Ilagan said rescue forces - including 10 U.S. Navy SEALs, 7 U.S. Army personnel, a P-3 Orion surveillance plane and a U.S. C-130 transport plane - have covered 1,125 square miles of ocean and coast.

             No decision has been made on whether to salvage the wreckage because of the deep water.

             Memorial services for the 10 Americans are to be held on Tuesday on the central Philippine island of Cebu, where other U.S. military personnel are deployed to provide logistics support for the planned six-month exercise.



          Monday, 25 February 2002, 05:33 AM ADST



A member of the Mactan Air Force Base ground crew walks behind one the two remaining MH-47E Chinook helicopters.


             A member of the Mactan Air Force Base ground crew walks behind one the two remaining MH-47E Chinook helicopters used in the U.S. and Philippines joint exercises in the southern Philippines, Monday, 25 February 2002, outside of the southern Philippines city of Cebu.



             ZAMBOANGA, Philippines - The U.S. military will try to salvage the wreck of an Army Chinook helicopter that crashed into the sea last week while taking part in a counter-terrorism training exercise, a senior Philippine official said Monday.

             The bodies of three of the 10 servicemen on the MH-47E helicopter were recovered shortly after it crashed before dawn Friday off the southern tip of Negros island in the southern Philippines. The seven other crew members have been missing since.

             "There will be an effort to recover parts of the aircraft, or maybe the whole aircraft, and hopefully the remaining bodies, not only because of the technical findings that could be achieved to determine the cause of the accident, but also for the benefit of the families of those still missing," National Security Adviser Roilo Golez said Monday.



          Tuesday, 26 February 2002, 06:19 AM ADST



             FORT CAMPBELL, Kentucky - Eight members of an elite Army regiment who died when their helicopter crashed in the Philippines were remembered Tuesday as heroes who followed their unit's motto: "Night Stalkers don't quit."

             "They represented all that was good in life and the tremendous cost associated with ensuring our freedom," said Maj. Dean Heithamp, acting commander of the 2nd Battalion of the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment.

             In honor of the soldiers, dark green flight helmets sat atop assault rifles placed next to black combat boots. The soldiers' dog tags were attached to the rifles. Below were portraits of each soldier. A 21-gun salute followed the ceremony.



Members of the E Company, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment pay thier respects to fallen comrades.


             Members of the E Company, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (SOAR), 1st Special Operations Group who lost 10 of their company in a helicopter crash bow their heads in prayer during a memorial service, Tuesday, 26 February 2002, at the Mactan Airbase in the southern Philippine city of Cebu. The service was held for ten US soldiers who were killed when a MH47E Chinook transport helicopter went down in the Bohol Sea 240 kms (150 miles) north of Zamboanga Island where the US military is training Philippine troops fight Muslim extremists. Seven bodies are still unaccounted for as search and recovery missions continue.



          Friday, 28 March 2002, 05:55 AM ADST



             ZAMBOANGA CITY A team of U.S. soldiers and civilian contractors arrived in Negros Oriental to recover the wreckage of a Special Forces Chinook helicopter that crashed into the sea last month.

             The aircraft crashed off Apo island in Negros Oriental on 22 February 2002, killing all 10 American military personnel on board.

             Only three bodies have been recovered and the cause of the crash has not been established.

             In a statement, the U.S. military said Jon Steen, a Dutch-owned search and rescue ship based in Singapore and contracted by the U.S. military, arrived at the crash site last Monday to begin salvage work.

             "This effort is to determine the cause of the mishap as well as to prevent similar mishaps in the future," read the statement. "We will take the time needed to accomplish the mission."

             Major Cynthia Teramae, spokeswoman for the U.S. Special Operations Command Task Force 510, said the search and rescue experts are using the latest technological advances like the Deep Drone Remote Operated Vehicle (ROV) and the Shallow Water Intermediate Search System (SWISS).

             "Both are owned by and operated by the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) based in Washington, DC," she said.

             The approximately 9 foot 3 foot long Deep Drone ROV has auto control functions for complete freedom of movement. The SWISS measures 3 by 6 and has a dual frequency side scan sonar that, when towed behind a vessel, it produces detailed images of the ocean floor, Teramae added.



          Saturday, 30 March 2002, 06:08 AM ADST



             ZAMBOANGA, Philippines - A U.S. led salvage team has recovered the bodies of five of seven U.S. crewmen missing since their special forces helicopter crashed at sea in the southern Philippines last month, a U.S. official said on Saturday.

             Eight Army and two Air Force personnel were on board the helicopter when the accident occurred on 22 February over the Bohol Strait, about 410 miles south of Manila. Bodies of three of the 10 were recovered soon after the crash.

             "Five crewmen from the U.S. Army MH-47 Chinook helicopter that crashed at sea in the Philippines in February have been recovered during ongoing salvage and recovery operations," Major Cynthia Teramae told reporters in the southern Philippine city Zamboanga.

             Teramae, spokeswoman for U.S. forces conducting joint military exercises with Filipino troops, said recovery operations to locate the two remaining crew members were continuing.



          Monday, 1 April 2002, 09:08 AM ADST



             ZAMBOANGA, Philippines - A U.S. team has recovered the flight voice recorder from an Army helicopter that crashed in February and hope it may help determine the cause of the accident that killed 10 American servicemen, a U.S. official said Monday.

             The two engines of the MH-47E Chinook helicopter also were recovered over the weekend at a depth of about 65 meters (200 feet) off the central Philippine island of Negros, U.S. Maj. Cynthia Teramae said. Eight bodies have been retrieved, including five found on Friday.



Wreckage of the MH-47E that crashed in the Philippines on 22 February 2002.


             Photographed upon their arrival in Cebu, Philippines, on 3 April 2002, officials from the United States - onboard the salvage ship Jan Steen - discuss the wreckage found of the U.S. Army MH-47 Chinook helicopter that crashed at sea in the southern Philippines.


Wreckage of the MH-47E that crashed in the Philippines on 22 February 2002.



          Wednesday, 3 April 2002, 07:08 AM ADST



             ZAMBOANGA, Philippines - The U.S. military called off search-and-recovery operations Wednesday for a crashed Army helicopter with the bodies of two American soldiers still missing.

             After exhaustive efforts, officials "made the decision that they have done all they could," said Air Force Major Richard Sater.



          Friday, 24 May 2002, 10:20 AM ADST



             Below, shown in undated photos, are five of the 10 U.S. military personnel killed in February when their Chinook helicopter crashed in the Bohol Sea in the Philippines during a training mission. From left to right: Staff Sgt. James P. Dorrity, Chief Warrant Officer 2 Jody L. Egnor, Sgt. Jeremy D. Foshee, Staff Sgt. Kerry W. Frith and Staff Sgt. Bruce A. Rushforth, Jr.


Photographs of five of the ten killed in the MH-47E crash in the Philippines.



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