Army National Guard grounds all helicopter units following fatal crash that killed two members
By Richard Brown // Mar 06, 2024

The federal Army National Guard (ANG) has ordered all helicopter units be grounded for the time being, following a fatal helicopter crash that killed two members of the Mississippi ANG.

An AH-64 Apache helicopter crashed near Booneville, Mississippi on the afternoon of Feb. 23. The tragic incident occurred during what was supposed to be a routine training mission. The two-seat helicopter crashed in a wooded area near Mount Olive Baptist Church.

The crash site, located near Baldwyn, in northeast Mississippi, is approximately 11 miles south of Booneville. Prentiss County Sheriff Randy Tolar provided information about the aircraft going down off Highway 30. Weather data from the National Weather Service indicated at least two wind gusts of 21 mph in Booneville shortly before the crash, with a temperature of 64 degrees.

The cause of the crash has not been publicly disclosed, and the U.S. Army's Combat Readiness Center is investigating the incident. Meanwhile, the MNG is actively providing "proper casualty assistance" to the families of the deceased soldiers.

The suspension of helicopter units from flight missions served as a precautionary measure to allow for a comprehensive review of safety procedures and protocols associated with helicopter flight. The duration of this suspension remains unknown, though the ANG clarified that the grounding will be lifted once all units complete their safety policy and procedure reviews. (Related: Fort Campbell crash: 9 service members killed in mid-air collision of Black Hawk choppers.)

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Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves confirmed the identities of the two casualties. They were identified as Chief Warrant Officer 4 (CWO4) Bryan Andrew and CWO4 Derek Joshua Abbott. The 36-year-old Andrew served as an AH-64 Delta Apache instructor while the 42-year-old Abbott served as a maintenance test pilot.

Fatalities from air incidents on the rise

Reeves expressed condolences and acknowledged the soldiers' dedicated service during a news conference, emphasizing the state's grief. Maj. Gen. Janson Boyles, commander of the MNG, also expressed profound sorrow and described the loss as heartbreaking for the state guard. Lt. General Jon Jensen, the director of the ANG, likewise expressed condolences and paid tribute to the fallen soldiers.

Investigations are ongoing to determine the causes of the crash, with a commitment to understanding and addressing potential contributing factors. This tragic incident follows other recent military helicopter accidents, underscoring the inherent risks associated with training and operational flights.

According to the Epoch Times, a helicopter also crashed in Utah on Feb. 12 – just 11 days before the one in Mississippi. While there were no casualties in the Utah incident, it caused two pilots – one from the ANG and another from the Air Force – to be hospitalized.

Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder, press secretary for the U.S. Department of Defense, expounded on the decision to ground helicopter units. "The separate crashes of AH-64D Apache helicopters in Utah on Feb. 12 and Mississippi on Feb. 23, respectively, drove the decision to ground all helicopters for safety reasons," he told reporters. "My understanding is that when units have completed their safety stand-down, they’ll be permitted to fly again."

Ryder clarified that there were no plans for a department-wide safety inquiry or stand down. "Safety and risk management are something that on every single day is taken seriously throughout the force," he added.

"The spate of deadly training incidents is not isolated. The U.S. military has suffered through innumerable crashes related to training mishaps for as long as it has deployed aircraft, and it is rare for the military to make it through a single year without one such crash," the Epoch Times pointed out.

"The number of fatalities stemming from such incidents does appear to be on the rise, however. Last year, at least 30 service members were killed in helicopter accidents."

Watch this Fox News report about helicopter pilots being grounded in 2023 following a series of crashes.

This video is from the NewsClips channel on

More related stories:

Navy medical officer reveals alarming 937% increase in heart failure among helicopter and fixed-wing pilots post-COVID-19 inoculation.

What's going on? Unusual number of private plane, helicopter crashes kill nearly two dozen in two weeks.

Third military aircraft in a week crashes in Southern California – is it the jabs?

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