The U.S. Army identified Saturday the five soldiers who were killed in a helicopter crash off the coast of Egypt‘s Sinai peninsula during a multinational peace-keeping mission.
The five U.S. soldiers were among seven who died in the crash Thursday. A French soldier and a Czech soldier also perished, and a sixth American was hospitalized in very serious condition.
Capt. Seth Vernon Vandekamp, 31, of Katy, Tex., Chief Warrant Officer 3 Dallas Gerald Garza, 34, of Fayetteville, N.C., Chief Warrant Officer 2 Marwan Sameh Ghabour, 27, of Marlborough, Mass., Staff Sgt. Kyle Robert McKee, 35, of Painesville, Ohio, and Sgt. Jeremy Cain Sherman, 23, of Watseka, Ill., all died in the crash.
Staff Sgt. Kyle Robert McKee, 35, of Painesville, Ohio (left), and Chief Warrant Officer 3 Dallas Gerald Garza, 34, of Fayetteville, N.C. (right), were among five U.S. soldiers killed Thursday in a helicopter crash in Egypt
Capt. Seth Vernon Vandekamp, 31, of Katy, Tex. (left), and Sgt. Jeremy Cain Sherman, 23, of Watseka, Ill. (right), were among five U.S. soldiers killed Thursday in a helicopter crash in Egypt
Chief Warrant Officer 2 Marwan Sameh Ghabour, 27, of Marlborough, Mass., was among five U.S. soldiers killed Thursday in a helicopter crash in Egypt
The Army has not yet identified the injured American soldier.
Czech Sgt. Maj. Michaela Ticha and French Lieutenant-Colonel Sébastien Botta were identified as casualties by their respective nations’ militaries.
The eight soldiers were flying in a UH-60 Black Hawk on a reconnaissance mission near the island of Tiran, an Egyptian official said.
The helicopter belonged to the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO), a peacekeeping force co-founded by Israel in 1979 when it signed a peace deal with Egypt.
An Egyptian official said the crash appeared to be caused by a technical failure.
There was ‘zero indication of malicious activity’ to cause the crash, a defense official told the Military Times. An investigation is underway.
An Israeli official said the country initially dispatched a helicopter but called off the mission after the deaths were confirmed.
The UH-60 Black Hawk was on a reconnaissance mission Thursday near Sharm el-Sheikh in Sinai peninsula when it crashed
Officials said that Thursday’s deadly helicopter crash seemed to stem from mechanical problems (file photo of two MRH 90 Multi-Role Helicopters)
The helicopter crash represents the deadliest crash for the military this year, according to Fox News. Its toll exceeds the number of American combat deaths in the Afghanistan War so far this year, which stands at four.
UH-60 variants have been involved in at least six crashes around the world this year. The widow of a U.S. Army helicopter crew chief sued manufacturer Lockheed Martin after he died in a 2017 crash of a UH-60 Black Hawk in Maryland.
Between 400 and 500 U.S. troops are deployed in the region under the auspices of the MFO, which was created after the Carter administration helped to broker the peace treaty in 1979.
However, a report in May 2020 said that Donald Trump’s then-defense secretary Mark Esper was looking to withdraw U.S. troops from the peninsula.
The Wall Street Journal report said that officials in the State Department and the Israeli government were opposed to the withdrawal.
The U.S. pledges to provide one-third of the MFO’s annual operating expenses, the organization says.
The MFO’s total contingent of around 1,150 military personnel also includes 275 from Colombia, 55 from Canada, and dozens from European countries including Italy and the Czech Republic.
In 2015, six of the peacekeepers were wounded by a roadside bomb, and some governments have previously voiced fears about remote and vulnerable outposts.
Small-scale attacks sometimes occur in the north of the peninsula, and Israel has previously warned that removing MFO troops would make insurgents ‘more jihadi’.
The MFO was created to monitor the demilitarization of Sinai after the historic peace deal was signed at Camp David 41 years ago.
Egypt’s then-president Anwar Sadat, who signed the accords, was assassinated in 1981 by radicals opposed to the deal.
The peacekeeping force was set up after the 1979 peace agreement between Egypt and Israel (pictured, Egyptian president Anwar Sadat, US president Jimmy Carter and Israeli PM Menachem Begin at the signing ceremony)