As the sun came up over a field south of Boise's Gowen Field Friday morning, investigators began the grim task of trying to piece together how an Apache helicopter crashed to the ground Thursday night, killing both its occupants. The incident occurred at around 7 p.m. Nov. 7 on private land near the intersection of Pleasant Valley Road and Hollilyn Drive.
Two National Guard crew members were on board, taking part in routine nighttime training.The helicopter was one of 16 Apaches based at Gowen Field.
"The men and women of the Idaho National Guard are united in grief at the loss of two of our brothers in arms, who gave their lives while training to defend our nation," said Idaho National Guard Commander Maj. Gen. Gary Sayler in a statement. "Today, our thoughts and prayers are with their families."
The victims were identified Friday morning as 50-year-old Stien Gearhart of Meridian and 43-year-old Jon Hartway of Kuna. Both were Chief Warrant Officers and were assigned to the 1-183rd Attack Reconnaissance Battalion.
Governor C.L. "Butch" Otter issued the following statement Friday:
“The First Lady and I mourn the loss of these Idaho Army National Guard pilots. Their loved ones and brothers and sisters in arms are in our thoughts and prayers. This tragedy reminds us of the enormous sacrifice and great risk involved in military service – whether here at home preparing to go into harm’s way or on the battle lines of freedom. I ask all Idahoans to join me in honoring these courageous citizen soldiers along with all those who have gone before them in defense of the liberties we hold so dear.”
In April 2013, a U.S. Apache helicopter crashed in Afghanistan's Nangahar Province, killing its two pilots. An investigation concluded that a suspected material failure caused the operators to lose control of the aircraft.