Two pilots who died Monday in a helicopter crash at Fort Benning were identified today as Capt. John D. Hortman and Chief Warrant Officer 3 Steven B. Redd, according to a statement from the Special Operations Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg, N.C.
Hortman, 30, and Redd, 37, were assigned to 1st Battalion, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment at Fort Campbell, Ky. Both died when their AH-6M Little Bird helicopter crashed during a joint training exercise with the 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment at Fort Benning.
Lt. Col. Michael Hertzendorf, commander of the regiment, said two Americans heroes were lost in a tragic training accident. "Every day the uniquely skilled and highly trained Night Stalker aviators execute challenging and dangerous training to prepare them for real world missions," the commander said. " It is with a very heavy heart that we recognize the loss of our own."
Hortman, a native of Inman , S.C., was a platoon leader and Redd, a native of Lancaster, Calif., was an armament platoon leader.
No other injuries were reported in the crash, which occurred about 4:15 p.m. The cause of the crash is under investigation by the U.S. Army Combat Readiness Center.
On a live-fire range, the crash came on the second day of an exercise with Rangers at Fort Benning and a unit from the U.S. Air Force.
Hertzendorf said the loss of Hortman and Redd will be felt personally and professionally for years. "Our immediate and lasting concern is for the families and friends of these extraordinary men who served their country with distinction, made the ultimate sacrifice and who lived by our motto: Night Stalkers Don't Quit." he said.
Hortman was a 2004 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point with a degree in history. He served in multiple positions as scout leader and company commander at Fort Drum, N.Y., before attending the Aviation Captain's Career Course at Fort Rucker, Ala. Last year, he was assigned to the 160th Special Operations Regiment.
He was deployed three times in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Survivors include his mother, Brenda Jones of Inman, a sister, Jill Hortman of Colorado Springs, Colo., and a brother, Andy Pierce of Overland Park, Kan.
Redd served nine years with the 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment before he was accepted into the Army Warrant Officer Program at Fort Rucker in 2001. After graduation from the AH-64 helicopter course, he was assigned to the Alpha Company, 6-6 Cavalry Squadron in Illesheim, Germany, as helicopter pilot and instructor pilot. He has been with the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment since 2007.
A combat veteran, Redd was deployed 12 times, including 10 to Iraq and two to Afghanistan.
Survivors include his wife Adalia Redd of Clarksville, Tennn; three children and three step-children, all of Clarksville, and his parents, Louis and Dorothy Redd of Layton, Utah.
In a statement from his family, Redd was remembered as a hero as the family asked for privacy and time to grieve. "He served his nation for more than 19 years and spent 10 of those doing what he particularly loved to do - flying with fellow Night Stalkers and supporting Special Operations forces. There is no question that Steve believed in what he was doing. He never doubted why he was there."
The AH-6M helicopter is a single-engine modified version of a commercial helicopter used as a light attack aircraft. Usually flown by two pilots, the Little Bird may be armed with a variety of weapons, including both M-134 miniguns and rockets, according to a Special Operations Command fact sheet.
Fort Benning officials had said Rangers would be training with two other units using low-flying helicopters and aircraft. The units included the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment and the Air Force Special Operations Command at Hulbert Field in Florida. The training, which began on Sunday, will run through Aug. 19.
With the training, officials said residents may hear more noise when members of the 75th Ranger Regiment join other units for training.
Training ammunition, which is not as loud as service rounds and other training devices, will be used to make the military exercise as realistic as possible, officials said.
Some training may occur after dark with helicopters and airplanes. The routine exercise will help the unit maintain high level of readiness, the release stated.