Leaders React After National Guard Releases Names of Guardsmen Killed in Helicopter Crash


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.

Gov. Walz ordered all American flags and Minnesota flags to be flown at half-staff throughout the weekend in memory of the victims.

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 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.”

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.

“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.”

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.”

Other Minnesota leaders said:

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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 [email protected].
Photo by Minnesota National Guard. 


















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