Minnesota National Guard to hold press conference Saturday

December 6, 2019 (ST. CLOUD, Minnesota) — The Minnesota National Guard will hold a press conference Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019, at 3:00 p.m. at the Army Aviation Support Facility located at 2185 45th Avenue SE, St. Cloud, MN 56304.

Leaders of the Minnesota National Guard will speak during the press conference and a limited number of members from the soldiers’ unit will be made available for comment regarding the deceased.

Interested media should R.S.V.P.to the Minnesota National Guard public affairs office at mn.ng.web@mail.mil. Media members should fill out the BCA background check form at: https://mnngpublicmain.azurewebsites.us/documents/2019/12/bca-background-check-form.pdf/ and include it with the RSVP in order to ensure timely entry into the aviation facility. Media should plan to arrive at 2:00 p.m. to ensure adequate time for entry into the facility and set up.

At 1:55 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 5, 2019, a Minnesota National Guard UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter took off from the St. Cloud Airport to conduct a routine maintenance flight. Shortly after takeoff, the pilots initiated a MAYDAY call and contact was lost with the aircraft. Local emergency responders initiated a search and rescue operation and located the downed aircraft southwest of St. Cloud at 4:15 p.m.

The three Minnesota National Guard members on board the helicopter were confirmed deceased. The names of the deceased individuals will be released on Saturday, Dec. 7. Army regulation prohibits the release of names of the deceased until 24 hours after the next of kin have been notified.

Casualty assistance officers have been assigned to the families to provide support and information about resources and benefits. The Minnesota National Guard is also providing support and resources for the soldiers in the unit.

On Friday, a Safety Investigation Team from the U.S. Army Combat Readiness Center, headquartered at Fort Rucker, Alabama, was dispatched to lead the investigation into the incident with an anticipated arrival to St. Cloud on Saturday.

“Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with the families of the fallen soldiers,” said Col. Joseph Sharkey, Minnesota National Guard Director of Communications. “We’d like to also thank the many first responders who assisted at the scene yesterday for their tireless efforts and continued support.”

The incident continues to be under investigation. Additional details will be provided as they become available. The Minnesota National Guard requests that media and the public respect the privacy of the families of the fallen at this time.

For more information contact the Minnesota National Guard public affairs office at 651-282-4410 or mn.ng.web@mail.mil or visit https://mnngpublicmain.azurewebsites.us.