WASHINGTON – In a short time — from Jan. 7 to Jan. 15 — a rash of military deaths claimed the lives of at least 12 service members. Nine died within 24 hours.
“These recent losses remind us that our troops face danger even when they’re not deployed in a war zone,” says Ami Neiberger-Miller, spokeswoman for the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, also known as TAPS.
The program assists families of the fallen or anyone grieving the death of a service member.
“Four Air Force service members died in a military helicopter training accident,” Neiberger-Miller said. That one happened in England on Jan 7.
In Virginia on Jan. 8, two Navy crew members died during a training mission when their chopper crashed into the Atlantic.
On Jan. 15 in Georgia, a Black Hawk went down in a “hard landing” during a training flight killing a Special Ops pilot. Neiberger-Miller says most of the deaths happened during training missions or on a military post.
She says TAPS is saddened by all of the deaths. She says one of the fallen airmen was TAPS summer camp volunteer.
During the military chopper crash in England one of the airmen who died was, “U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Afton Ponce who volunteered as a Good Grief Camp mentor for several years here in the Washington, D.C. area.”
During the “Good Grief Camp,” Neiberger-Miller says the staff sergeant would help the children of the fallen cope with the heartbreaking loss of a military parent.