Nov. 22 (UPI) — The Pentagon identified Thursday two U.S. service members who died earlier in the week in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan.
The Department of Defense said Chief Warrant Officer 2 David C. Knadle, 33, from Tarrant, Texas, and Chief Warrant Officer 2 Kirk T. Fuchingami JR., 25, from Keaau, Hawaii, died Wednesday when their helicopter crashed while providing security to ground troops in Logan Province.
“The incident is under investigation,” the Department of Defense said in a statement.
Both soldiers were assigned to the 1st Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, in Fort Hood, Texas.
“First Attack is saddened by the tragic loss of Chief Warrant Officer 2 David C. Knadle and Chief Warrant Officer 2 Kirk T. Fuchigami Jr.,” Lt. Col. Adam Camarano, commander of the 1-227th Attack Reconnaissance Battalion, said in a statement. “Our heartfelt condolences go to both families and their friends during this difficult time. [They] will always be remembered as a part of brave Cavalry troopers who have laid down their lives in defense of freedom.”
NATO’s mission in Afghanistan Resolute Support said Wednesday that preliminary reports do not indicate that the cause of the crash was enemy fire.
With their deaths, the death toll for U.S. service members in Afghanistan for 2019 rose to at least 19 after Sgt. 1st Class Jeremy Griffin died by small arms fire while engaged in combat in September.
It is the highest number of U.S. military casualties in the Middle Eastern country since 2014.
Over 2,400 U.S. service members have died in the Middle Eastern country since the war started in 2001 following the 9/11 attacks.
There are approximately 13,000 U.S. troops currently stationed in Afghanistan.