Helicopter crash caused
by dust storm, Army says

Two Hawaii-based soldiers died
in the crash in Afghanistan

A Chinook helicopter crashed in April in Afghanistan, killing 18 people, including two Hawaii-based soldiers, because the pilots became disoriented during a severe dust storm, the Army said in a statement yesterday.


Sgt. Maj. Barbaralien Banks: The 25th Infantry Division soldier was from Louisiana

Killed in the largest single loss of U.S. life in Afghanistan since 2001 were 15 U.S. service members and three civilian contractors. Among the dead were Master Sgt. Edwin A. Matoscolon, 42, of Juana Diaz, Puerto Rico; and Sgt. Maj. Barbaralien Banks, 41, of Harvey, La. Both were soldiers assigned to the 25th Infantry Division Artillery, based at Schofield Barracks.

The results of a U.S. Army Collateral Investigation Board, which reviewed the events leading to the crash of the helicopter known as "Big Windy 25," found that the aircraft encountered a severe dust storm with winds of more than 45 knots that caused the pilots to lose visibility.

The pilots were converting to instrument flight procedures when they became spatially disoriented and over-controlled the aircraft, the Army statement said.


Master Sgt. Edwin Matoscolon: The Schofield soldier, 42, hailed from Puerto Rico

The crash of the CH-47D Chinook occurred April 6 near the Afghan city of Ghazni.

The Army statement said the helicopter, which belonged to F Company, 159th Aviation Regiment, 12th Aviation Brigade, was transporting passengers and supplies from Forward Operations Base Orgun-E Kalan to Forward Operations Base Sarhawdza in Ghazni province.

"We mourn the loss of this crew and its passengers, and will never forget their selfless service and sacrifice," said Maj. Gen. Jason Kamiya, commander of Combined Joint Task Force 76, in a written statement yesterday.

"We have already implemented or are in the process of implementing the recommendations of the investigation team to preclude tragedies such as this from occurring in the future."

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