The Minnesota National Guard released the names of the three crew members who tragically died after a UH-60 Black Hawk Helicopter went down south of St. Cloud Thursday.
The helicopter departed St. Cloud shortly before 2 p.m. and sent out a mayday nine minutes after takeoff. The base then lost contact with the crew until a Minnesota State Patrol trooper found the aircraft in a field a little after 4 p.m. Thursday evening.
Gov. Tim Walz said an investigation into the crash will be launched in the coming days but withheld the names of the crew members until families could be notified. The Minnesota National Guard said Saturday morning that Chief Warrant Officer Two James A. Rogers Jr., 28, Chief Warrant Officer Two Charles P. Nord, 30, and Sergeant Kort M. Plantenberg, 28, were aboard the helicopter.
“All three soldiers were assigned to Company C, 2-211th General Support Aviation Battalion, based in St. Cloud, Minnesota. The unit returned from a nine-month deployment to the Middle East in May 2019, where they conducted medical evacuations in support of Operation Spartan Shield and Operation Inherent Resolve. All three soldiers deployed on this mission,” said the statement.
All three soldiers were assigned to Company C, 2-211th General Support Aviation Battalion, based in St. Cloud, Minnesota.
— MN National Guard (@MNNationalGuard) December 7, 2019
Gov. Walz ordered all American flags and Minnesota flags to be flown at half-staff throughout the weekend in memory of the victims.
I am mourning with all Minnesotans for the brave National Guard soldiers who tragically died yesterday. Today I ordered flags across Minnesota to be lowered in honor of their dedicated service. pic.twitter.com/EP93SsrrvQ
— Governor Tim Walz (@GovTimWalz) December 6, 2019
Elected officials throughout the state reacted to the news Saturday morning after the release of the names.
“We honor their service and recognize their ultimate sacrifice for our state and country,” said Lt. Gov Peggy Flanagan. “I am praying for their families and loved ones, and that they find peace and comfort in the outpouring of support from Minnesotans.”
Our hearts are heavy today as we grieve the loss of MN National Guard soldiers Chief Warrant Officer Two Charles Nord, Chief Warrant Officer Two James Rogers, and Sergeant Kort Plantenberg.
We honor their service and recognize their ultimate sacrifice for our state and country.
— Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan (@LtGovFlanagan) December 7, 2019
“Our hearts are broken as we grieve the tragic loss of three special heroes,” wrote St. Cloud Mayor Dave Kleis. “Our prayers are with their families, friends and brothers and sisters in the Minnesota National Guard.”
Our hearts are broken as we grieve the tragic loss of three special heroes. Our prayers are with their families, friends and brothers and sisters in the MN National Guard.
— Mayor Dave Kleis (@MayorDaveKleis) December 6, 2019
House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler (D-Golden Valley) said the Minnesota House “sends its deepest condolences to the families of the National Guard service members who passed away in this tragic accident.”
“Our National Guard performs the highest form of service on behalf of Minnesotans and has been in harm’s way around the world. Minnesotans and Americans honor their service and sacrifice,” he added.
"The Minnesota House of Representatives sends its deepest condolences to the families of the National Guard service members who passed away in this tragic accident. Our National Guard performs the highest form of service on behalf of Minnesotans and has been in harm’s way…
— Minnesota House DFL (@mnhouseDFL) December 6, 2019
“This is a devastating loss for the Minnesota National Guard, the people of Minnesota and above all their families, friends, and the communities these service members called home,” said Attorney General Keith Ellison. “Please honor and hold them and their families in your hearts.”
Theee Minnesotans lost their lives today while serving the rest of us. This is a devastating loss for the MN NatlGuard, the people of MN & above all their families, friends & the communities these servicemembers called home. Pls honor & hold them & their families in your hearts.
— Attorney General Keith Ellison (@AGEllison) December 6, 2019
Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka (R-Nisswa) said on Thursday that “Minnesotans are united in our grief for our National Guard members who perished today.”
“Today’s accident reminds us of the dangerous job we ask them to do on a daily basis,” he said. “No matter where they die, they are all heroes.”
All Minnesotans are united in grief for our National Guard members who perished today. Today’s accident reminds us of the dangerous job we ask them to do on a daily basis. No matter where they die, they are all heroes. #mnleg #neverforget
— Paul Gazelka (@paulgazelka) December 6, 2019
Other Minnesota leaders said:
I’m heartbroken by what appears to be the loss of three crew members on a National Guard Black Hawk that went down this afternoon. I recently flew with a St Cloud-based crew on a Black Hawk from STP to Fort Ripley, and they were remarkable. Please pray. https://t.co/kWHxKoRIEL
— Rep. Dean Phillips (@RepDeanPhillips) December 5, 2019
My heart is with the loved ones of @MNNationalGuard members Chief Warrant Officer 2 Charles Paul Nord, Chief Warrant Officer 2 James Arnold Rogers Jr., & Sergeant Kort Miller Plantenberg. Know that their service & sacrifice will not be forgotten. Minnesotans stand with you today. https://t.co/ybHGuoqzJm
— Rep. Betty McCollum (@BettyMcCollum04) December 7, 2019
My thoughts are with the families of our three brave soldiers.
In Minnesota, we always show up for one and other.
I hope we are able to provide answers on this tragedy, and that our community, state and nation show their support in this painful time.https://t.co/yqHu9QQWoU
— Rep. Ilhan Omar (@Ilhan) December 6, 2019
Three brave Minnesota National Guard soldiers made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation. I'm deeply saddened — my thoughts and prayers are with their families and loved ones and with the entire Minnesota National Guard community, at home and overseas.
— Amy Klobuchar (@amyklobuchar) December 6, 2019
This is a devastating loss for Minnesota. Words can’t express my sadness for these three soldiers and their families. I’m thinking of all @MNNationalGuard members and their families tonight. https://t.co/nIqUOCJCIQ
— Senator Tina Smith (@SenTinaSmith) December 6, 2019
I am absolutely heartbroken by this tragic news. Please pray for the three Guardsmen and their families. https://t.co/DVhkmaKGDv
— Pete Stauber (@RepPeteStauber) December 6, 2019
— Angie Craig (@RepAngieCraig) December 6, 2019
Incredibly saddened to hear about the crew of the Minnesota National Guard’s UH-60L Blackhawk helicopter. They and their families are in our prayers this evening and this Christmas season. https://t.co/aMdfVcqaEw
— Congressman Jim Hagedorn (@RepHagedorn) December 6, 2019
My sincerest condolences to the families of the victims who perished in the National Guard helicopter crash.
This tragedy is the latest reminder of the sacrifices our National Guard members provide- they’re in our thoughts this holiday season.https://t.co/kKseXHF19Y
— Jason Lewis (@LewisForMN) December 6, 2019
— Karin Housley (@KarinHousley) December 7, 2019
My heart breaks for Chief Warrant Officer 2 Rogers, Chief Warrant Officer 2 Nord, Sgt. Plantenberg, and their families. All of Minnesota is praying they can find peace.https://t.co/uk8cpdWdhX
— Julie Rosen (@JulieRosenMN) December 7, 2019
Such a difficult loss. Sending prayers to the families of the crewmembers. Deeply grateful for their service and sacrifice. https://t.co/ExwIsZvtIf
— Sen. Susan Kent (@SusanKentMN) December 6, 2019
— Jerry Relph (@SenatorRelph) December 7, 2019
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Anthony Gockowski is managing editor of Battleground State News, The Ohio Star, and The Minnesota Sun. Follow Anthony on Twitter. Email tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo by Minnesota National Guard.