Nazjonale, Michael L.

Michael L. Nazionale
December 18, 1955 – October 29, 1992

MH-60G #88-26116
Call Sign “Merit 84”
Great Salt Lake, UT
29 October 1992


By Paul Parkinson, Steve Fidel and Joseph Bauman, Staff Writers
Published: Friday, Oct. 30 1992 12:00 a.m. MST
An Air Force helicopter capable of carrying 14 people crashed into the Great Salt Lake while on a Special Forces training exercise Thursday night, going down 100 yards north of Antelope Island.

As of midday Friday, one survivor was reported rescued, several bodies were recovered and the search was called off. “There were casualties, but at this time we have no specific information on the number of personnel killed or injured,” said Frances Kosakowsky of Hill Air Force Base’s public affairs office.

Kenneth Payne, Davis County chief deputy sheriff, confirmed that a number of bodies had been recovered at the site and were removed by ambulance.

Payne said his crews left the lake about 11 a.m. Friday, having searched since 2 a.m. “It was dark, miserable, wet and very choppy,” he said.

Kosakowsky said the aircraft was participating in a U.S. Special Operations Command joint mobility and readiness training exercise.

The MH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter (Call sign Merit 84) was assigned to the Air Force’s 1st Special Operations Wing and was part of a squadron based at Elgin Air Force Base near Fort Walton Beach, Fla.

Major Chuck Merlo, public affairs officer at the U.S. Special Forces Command, MacDill Air Force Base, Tampa, Fla., said, “The Air Force Operations Command tells us it (the Pave Hawk) normally carries between eight and 10 passengers and four crew members.”

The survivor, whose name was not released (later identified as Maj. Stephan J. Laushine), was picked up about 10:30 p.m. Thursday from the Antelope Island causeway by a helicopter ambulance, and flown to the University of Utah Medical Center. He was listed in fair condition with lacerations on his body and face.

A Hill official said the operation involved airborne assault training, patrolling and live-fire exercises in the desert. The crash site was about 13 miles west of Hill.

Lightning, torrential rain and heavy cloud cover forced temporary suspension in the search of the crash site on Friday. Military helicopters and motorboats from the Utah Division of Parks and Recreation participated in the search.

The crash happened at 9:15 p.m., Kosakowsky said. The helicopter, flying out of Hill Air Force Base, was on a joint Air Force-Army training exercise at Hill’s Test and Training Range west of the Great Salt Lake. Hill officers did not say whether it was going to or returning from the range.

Non-essential aircraft flights were banned below 5,000 feet, within a five-mile radius of the crash.

Merlo said elements of the Air Force Special Operations Command were involved in the exercise, as were elements of the Army Special Operations Command, which included the 75th Ranger Regiment and the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment.

The helicopter was stationed at Hurlburt Field, but the wing’s headquarters is at Eglin AFB. Both Hurlburt and Eglin are at Fort Walton Beach, Fla.

“The likelihood that any Hill Air Force Base units were on the aircraft was slim. Most of the people for the special exercise are from out of state,” said Hill spokesman Len Barry.

Explaining the lack of information about casualty numbers by mid-morning, Barry said the Special Forces officials are “fairly secretive, sensitive about what they’re doing because of the nature of the operation.”

Looking seven miles away from the entrance to the Antelope Island Causeway on Friday, search planes could be seen skimming the lake’s surface below the heavy cloud cover. Boats were bobbing on the surface.

Teams of divers from the Davis County sheriff’s office, search and rescue units from the Salt Lake County sheriff’s office and rangers from the State Parks Division joined the search.

Several boats from the Parks Division also were enlisted.

As many as 200 horses and riders had been expected to participate in the annual bison roundup Friday afternoon on Antelope Island, but they were being turned away during the morning. An armed military guard and a Davis County deputy sheriff prevented anyone from going onto the causeway.

The helicopter’s primary wartime missions are combat rescue, infiltration and resupply of Special Operations forces. It is equipped with a forward-looking infrared night guidance system and can be armed either with two 7.62-mm guns capable of firing up to 2,000 rounds per minute, or two 50 caliber machine guns.

The Pave Hawk was armed at the time of the crash, officials said.

(Additional information)

Park will still open\ The opening of an area of Antelope Island State Park will proceed as planned even though a helicopter crash cast a shadow over the festivities.

The opening was scheduled for Saturday, and Davis County commissioners said all activities are on as planned.

Military personnel will be stationed on the causeway for at least two weeks. The public will be asked not to stop on the causeway but drive straight through to the island.

Copyright 2012, Deseret News Publishing Company

MH-60G #88-26116
Call Sign “Merit 84”
Great Salt Lake, UT
29 October 1992


Hill Air Force Base, Utah — (AF) — An Air Force helicopter crashed into the Great Salt Lake during rough weather, killing 12 people, authorities said Friday. The only other person aboard was rescued from the water.

A storm, with snow at high elevations, hampered rescue efforts but all 12 bodies were recovered, said Hill Air Force Base spokesman Dave Kendziora.

The MH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter was on a training mission when it went down Thursday night in northern Utah’s inland sea, about 100 yards off the northern tip of Antelope Island and about 15 miles west of Hill Air Force Base.

Kendziora said crews in search helicopters spotted debris and bodies in deeper water northwest of the crash, apparently pushed there by high wind. They were recovered by crews in boats.

One survivor (later identified as Maj. Stephan J. Laushine) was pulled from the water and was in serious condition at the University of Utah Health Sciences Center with cuts on his right leg and over his left eye.

The helicopter was assigned to the 1st Special Operations Wing headquarted at Hurlburt Field at Eglin Air Force Base, FL.

It may have been stationed with squadrons elsewhere in Florid, he said.

The helicopter was on a joint Army-Air Force exercise, and those aboard could have included Army personnel, Grimes said.

The exercise involved patrols, raids, ambushes and live fire exercises, said Hill spokesman Len Barry.

Daily Herald Chicago, Illinois 1992-10-31

List of Casualties;
Sgt. Blaine A Mishak. (SF) USA
Col. John T. Keneally (SF) USA
Lt. Col. Kenneth W. Strauss (SF) USA
1st Sgt. Harvey L. Moore, Jr. (SF) USA
Spc. Jeremy B. Bird (SF) USA
Lt. Col. Roland E. Peixotto, Jr. (P) USAF
SSgt. Steven W. Kelley USAF (FE)
Sgt. Philip A. Kesler (FE) USAF
Sr. Amn. Derek C. Hughes (CCT) USAF
Cpt. Michael L. Nazionale (CCT) USAF
Sgt. Mark C. Lee (CCT) USAF
TSgt. Mark Scholl (CCT) USAF


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