5 U.S. service members were killed in a helicopter crash during a training exercise
Five American service members were killed during a training exercise after a military Black Hawk helicopter crashed into the Mediterranean Sea on Saturday morning, defense officials said.
The incident occurred during a routine air refueling mission, the U.S. European Command said in a news release.
Search and rescue efforts began immediately, EUCOM said. An investigation into the crash is underway.
A U.S. aircraft carrier and accompanying ships are operating in the Mediterranean as part of a strengthened presence to deter Iran from getting directly involved in the war between Israel and Hamas.
Officials said there was no indication of hostile fire. The Black Hawk was from the Army's 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment.
The Department of Defense is withholding the identities of those killed until 24 hours after next of kin have been notified.
The crash came a day after Veterans Day ceremonies honored fallen American service members.
"While we continue to gather more information about this deadly crash, it is another stark reminder that the brave men and women who defend our great nation put their lives on the line each and every day to keep our country safe," Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said in a statement. "They represent the best of America. We will remember their service and their sacrifice."
It's the latest in a string of fatal crashes that have occurred during military exercises in recent years.
In August, an aircraft crash during a military training exercise in north Australia's Melville Island killed three of the 23 Marines aboard. Prior to the August crash, there had been five fatal crashes of Marine Osprey aircrafts since 2012, causing a total of 16 deaths.
In 2021, five sailors died after a Seahawk helicopter crashed off the San Diego coast during routine Navy operations.
NPR's Tom Bowman contributed to this report.
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