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Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2011

U.S. mourns loss of 38 killed in crashes

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WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama traveled to Dover Air Force Base, Del., on Aug. 9 for the return of 30 U.S. service members killed in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan.

Thirty International Security Assistance Force members, one civilian interpreter, and seven Afghan commandos were killed when a coalition CH-47 Chinook crashed in Afghanistan on Aug. 6.

All of the ISAF service members on board were from the United States, officials said. The incident represents the highest number of U.S. forces killed during a single event in Operation Enduring Freedom.

The dead servicemen included a number of Navy SEALs, officials said. Some of them were reportedly from SEAL Team 6, the unit that carried out the raid on Osama Bin Laden.

The Chinook helicopter crashed in the rugged and remote Tangi valley of eastern Afghanistan. U.S. officials have said the crash may have been caused by insurgents firing a rocket-propelled grenade, but emphasized an investigation is under way to determine the exact cause.

“No words describe the sorrow we feel in the wake of this tragic loss,” said Gen. John R. Allen, IASF commander. “All of those killed in this operation were true heroes who had already given so much in the defense of freedom. Their sacrifice will not be forgotten. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families who are now waiting for their loved ones to return home. We will do everything in our power to support them in this time of need.

“We also mourn the loss of our heroic Afghan partners who fight with us shoulder to shoulder every day.”

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