The two pilots who died Monday in a Fort Benning helicopter crash were Capt. John D. Hortman and Chief Warrant Officer 3 Steven B. Redd, said a statement Wednesday from the 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.”
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Hortman, a native of Inman, S.C., was a platoon leader. 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 U.S. Army Combat Readiness Center is investigating.
The crash on a live-fire range occurred 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, N.Y., 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 a 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 times to Iraq and two to Afghanistan.
Survivors include his wife Adalia Redd of Clarksville, Tenn.; three children and three step-children, all of Clarksville; and his parents, Louis and Dorothy Redd of Layton, Utah.
A statement from his family said Redd was a hero: “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 family asked for privacy and time to grieve.
The AH-6M helicopter is a single-engine modified version of a commercial helicopter and is used as a light attack aircraft. Usually flown by two pilots, the Little Bird can be armed with a variety of weapons, including both M-134 miniguns and rockets, according to a Special Operations Command fact sheet.
Post officials said training at Fort Benning will continue through Aug. 19 with the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment and the Air Force Special Operations Command at Hulbert Field in Florida. The training involves low-flying helicopters and aircraft.
Residents may hear more noise on ranges than from normal exercises. Some training may occur after dark with helicopters and airplanes. The training is aimed at helping the units maintain readiness.