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Four airmen assigned to the 317th Airlift Group died Oct. 2 at 12:19 a.m. local time in Afghanistan when their C-130J crashed during initial take-off from Jalalabad Airfield, Afghanistan.
They were among 11 people killed in the crash of the military transport plane.
Dyess officials said names of the deceased are being withheld until 24 hours after the families of the airmen have been notified.
“The death of these Airmen, who died in service to our country, is a profound loss,” said Col. Michael Bob Starr, 7th Bomb Wing commander. “The sadness and shock of this tragedy can be felt across the entire Dyess community, and our hearts and prayers go out to our brothers and sisters in the 317th AG. We are extending every available resource to comfort and care for the family and friends of our fallen heroes.”
“This is a deeply emotional time for everyone in the 317th Airlift Group,” said Col. Stephen Hodge, 317th AG commander. “The friendship and camaraderie in the Herk community, especially among our Dyess and Abilene friends is unlike any other. These Airmen and their loved ones are our family and we will continue to take care of them.”
Six U.S. servicemembers and five civilians died in the crash. The deceased from the 317th AG contained an aircrew of two C-130J pilots and two loadmasters. The other two airmen killed in the crash came from Hanscom AFB, Massachusetts, according to a news release from the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing.
The cause of the accident is currently under investigation by officials in the Central Command Area of Responsibility.
Enemy fire is not suspected as a factor in the crash, the news release says. A Taliban spokesman had reportedly claimed on Twitter that the group had shot the C-130 down.
An Air Force spokesman confirmed that there were additional fatalities on the ground. "We know we have fatalities on the ground, however I cannot confirm the amount or disposition of them...who they are or in what capacity they served at Jalalabad Airfield," said Maj. Tony Wickman, a spokesman for the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing.
C-130s are used to transport military personnel and cargo. The five civilians killed in the crash were the only passengers aboard the C-130, Wickman said.
The two airmen from Hanscom were members of the 66th Security Forces Squadron, who were deployed to the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing in Afghanistan, according to a news release from Hanscom Air Force Base. Airmen with the security forces squadron frequently deploy around the world for security operations.
The Jalalabad air field is about 80 miles from the capital, Kabul.
Authorities say an unknown number of people on the ground were also killed, The Associated Press reported.
Afghan officials had no immediate details on the crash or any casualty figures.
Rep. Randy Neugebauer, R-Lubbock, released the following statement today:
“Dana and I send our prayers to the American heroes—including four Airmen from Dyess Air Force Base—who were killed in this tragic plane crash in Afghanistan. Our hearts go out to all of the families and loved ones, as well as everyone in the Dyess and Abilene community, during this terrible time of grief. We are eternally grateful for their service and sacrifice in defense of our freedom.”
More information will be released as it becomes available.