Dedicated to the Preservation of the
U.S. Air Force Helicopter History
Justin Christopher Wotasik, A1C, USAF (Fallen)October 16, 1978 – September 03, 1998
In one of the worst training accidents in recent Air Force history, all 12 crew members aboard a pair of rescue squadron helicopters were killed early Friday when their choppers crashed in the darkness of the Nevada desert.
The two Pave Hawk helicopters were nearing the end of a routine four-hour training mission when they went down shortly after midnight about 55 miles north of Las Vegas in a mountain region that reaches heights of 6,800 feet, military officials said.
The victims, all men, were part of the 66th Rescue Squadron, the largest in the Air Force, which was recently deployed in Turkey and the Persian Gulf. The 65-foot-long helicopters that crashed Friday can reach speeds of up to 222 mph and are typically used by a six-member crew to locate downed pilots trapped in enemy territory.
The two flight crews were conducting a standard training mission, navigating the mountain region and conducting low-altitude flying to practice means of evading antiaircraft guns and surface-to-air missiles, officials said. Such training sessions are run from Nellis almost nightly.
The victims were identified as: Capt. Gregg W. Lewis, pilot; Capt. Phillip Miller, co-pilot; Staff Sgt. Kevin M. Brunelle, flight engineer; Staff Sgt. Kenneth W. Eaglin, flight engineer; Senior Airman Jesse D. Stewart, para-rescueman; Master Sgt. Matthew Sturtevant, gunner; Lt. Col. William H. Milton, pilot; Capt. Karl Youngblood, pilot; Tech. Sgt. Jeffrey R. Armour, flight engineer; Senior Airman Adam Stewart, flight engineer; Airman 1st Class Justin C. Wotasik, para-rescueman; and 2nd Lt. Michael Harwell, mission essential ground personnel.
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