Soldiers remembered after two separate helicopter crashes last week

Soldiers remembered after two separate helicopter crashes last week

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - Last week, five soldiers from Hunter Army Airfield were killed when their Blackhawk helicopter went down during a training exercise in Afghanistan.

Over the weekend, another soldier died from the same unit of Hunter Army Airfield's Task Force Falcon, Marne Air, the 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade of  the 3rd ID.

Kevin Larson, public information officer for Fort Stewart and HAAF, confirmed Chief Warrant Officer James Groves, 37, was involved in a chopper related crash which took his life.

This is two separate chopper crashes in one week. Six families now face the reality of their loved ones sacrifice.

"It's like a dream," Chip Allison said.

"My God. I just lost a child. Zack's not coming back," Kim Allison said.

The Allisons are parents to 21-year-old Spc. Zachary Shannon, of Dunedin, Fla. He was one of five soldiers who died in the Blackhawk training crash last Monday.

Shannon, along with Staff Sgt. Steven Blass, 27, of Estherville, Iowa; Chief Warrant Officer Bryan Henderson, 27, of Franklin, La.; Capt. Sara Knutson, 27, Eldersburg, Md.; and Staff Sgt. Marc Scialdo, 31, of Naples, Fla.; were all 3rd ID members based in Savannah.

Six days later, from the same unit but a separate helicopter crash, Chief Warrant Officer James Groves was killed when his helicopter went down. Larson said early indications show know enemy presence near where the crash happened.

Groves, a husband and father of two boys was in his fourth deployment, and second in Afghanistan. His death is hitting hard at his hometown of Kettering, Ohio, where his boss at a local restaurant remembered Groves who joined the army in 1994 after high school.

"He left a big impression on people. He hasn't lived here for a while but it tells you how much people remember him how big an impression he did make," said Chip Pritchard, owner of Christopher's Restaurant.

Both crashes remain under investigation. Shannon's family said they knew their son died doing what he loved.

"His last Facebook post said, 'Day 2 of flying in Afghanistan: successful," Allison said. "I don't think he had any fear. It would be OK with him if this is how he died."

Since their deaths, there has been a huge outpouring of support and sympathy on Facebook. A tree dedication ceremony will take place in honor of all six soldiers on April 18, the third Thursday of the month at Warrior's Walk.

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