April 7, 2017

National Guard Helicopter Crash Kills 2 Pilots

“In a fiery crash into power lines in rural Campbell County, two Tennessee Army National Guard pilots lost their lives on Saturday. Lt. Thomas Joseph Williams Jr. and Chief Warrant Officer 4 Daniel Cole died when the OH-58D Kiowa Warrior helicopter they were flying crashed near the Royal Blue Recreation Area, 30 miles north of Knoxville, as they were conducting a routine military exercise.

National Guard Helicopter Crash Kills 2 Pilots

LaFollette Utility officials reported that over 5,000 customers lost power as a result of the crash. Power company workers were able to restore electricity in about two hours.

Lt. Williams and CWO Cole, both from Knoxville, were members of the 1-230th Armored Cavalry Squadron at McGhee Tyson Air National Guard Base south of Knoxville, TN. CWO Cole was a highly experienced instructor pilot who saw duty in Iraq and Kosovo during his more than 20 years in the Guard. Lt. Williams had been with the Guard for three years.

Army investigators have not concluded the cause of the accident and the site is still restricted. The Kiowa Warrior, though, is the center of a multi-million dollar lawsuit involving two other 1/230 pilots killed in a crash in Iraq in 2010. In that suit, the helicopter’s electronic control system is faulted by the petitioners, who also allege that the makers of the helicopter were negligent in rectifying defective and unsafe conditions.

The OH-58D Kiowa Warrior Reconnaissance / Attack Helicopter is a regular workhorse in active-duty military organizations, but only National Guard unit in the United States to use the Keowa Warrior is Tennessee.

CWO Cole was extremely professional and considered and excellent aviator. Lt. Williams had completed a degree at the University of Tennessee before enlisting in the National Guard so that he could pursue his passion for flying. Both were well-liked and popular with the community.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam proclaimed a state of mourning for the two pilots and committed to fully support all agencies involved in the investigation. Tennessee National Guard Mag. Gen Max Haston expressed deep sorrow for the soldiers and their families.

Funerals for both soldiers are planned for later this week in Knowxville.”

Knoxville News Sentinel

Friend talks about fallen Guardsman killed in helicopter crash

Two dead in TN National Guard helicopter crash

Kiowa Warrior

McGhee Tyson Air National Guard Base

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