The three soldiers were killed when their UH-50 Black Hawk helicopter crashed in rural Kimball. Officials identified the three men as Chief Warrant Officer James A. Rogers, 28, Chief Warrant Officer Charles P. Nord, 30 and Sgt. Kort M. Plantenberg, 28.
All three soldiers were assigned to Company C, 2-211th General Support Aviation Battalion, which was based in St. Cloud, according to the National Guard.
“On behalf of all Minnesotans, Gwen and I offer our deepest sympathies to the families of Chief Warrant Officer Two Charles Nord, Chief Warrant Officer Two James Rogers, and Sergeant Kort Plantenberg,” Gov. Tim Walz declared in a statement on Saturday.
“They paid the ultimate price in their service to Minnesota and to the United States of America. Words will never ease the pain of this tragic loss and the state of Minnesota is forever in the debt of these warriors.”
According to the Minnesota National Guard, all three soldiers returned from a nine-month deployment to the Middle East in May 2019, where they conducted medical evacuations to support Operation Spartan Shield and Operation Inherent Resolve.
The black Hawk helicopter crashed southwest of St. Cloud, Minnesota — on a property belonging to the Krippner family, who run an excavating business with a gravel pit.
On Friday, members of the family raised an American flag near the crash site.
“We just want them to know we support them and stand behind them. Thank you for serving our country,” Kurt Krippner told WCCO-TV.
Walz declared the state in mourning and all flags to be lowered to half-staff in honor of the three fallen soldiers and their “dedicated service” until Monday.
The investigation of the crash is underway by the Safety Investigation Team from the U.S. Army Combat Readiness Center — based in Fort Rucker, Alabama.
The outlet reported the soldiers were conducting a maintenance test flight when the helicopter crashed shortly after takeoff.