WASHINGTON — The Defense Department has identified nine American troops killed while supporting a special operations mission in Afghanistan.
The military announced Wednesday that four sailors were killed in the crash during combat operations a day earlier, along with five soldiers. It was the worst coalition helicopter crash in Afghanistan in four years.
Three of the sailors were Navy SEALs, while the fourth was assigned to the Naval Special Warfare unit. The five soldiers were from the 101st Combat Aviation Brigade, 101st Airborne Division, at Fort Campbell, Ky.
The Navy victims were identified as Lt. Brendan J. Looney, 29, of Owings, Md.; Senior Chief Petty Officer David B. McLendon, 30, of Thomasville, Ga.; Petty Officer 2nd Class Adam O. Smith, 26, of Hurland, Mo.; and Petty Officer 3rd Class Denis C. Miranda, 24, of Toms River, N.J.
McLendon was a Navy cryptologic technician assigned to a Naval Special Warfare unit.
Looney, an all-American for the Navy lacrosse team; Smith, who had made numerous deployments in support of overseas contingency operations; and Miranda, whose teammates described him as "a budding superstar" according to a statement released by the military, were assigned to SEAL teams.
"On behalf of the entire Naval Special Warfare community — we extend our sincerest condolences to all the families of our fallen brothers, our Navy SEALs and support tech, Army air crewmen, and coalition personnel," Rear Adm. Edward Winters, commander of Naval Special Warfare Command said in the statement. "Our prayers are with these families during this very difficult time."
"These men bravely and unselfishly answered the nation's call to defend freedom and protect the nation and its allies from terrorism," Winters added. "The loss of these brave warriors will only strengthen our resolve in the fight against extremism and terror."
The soldiers killed were Maj. Robert F. Baldwin, 39, of Muscatine, Iowa; Chief Warrant Officer Matthew G. Wagstaff, 34, of Orem, Utah; Chief Warrant Officer Jonah D. McClellan, 26, of St. Louis Park, Minn.; Staff Sgt. Joshua D. Powell, 25, of Pleasant Plains, Ill.; and Sgt. Marvin R. Calhoun Jr., 23, of Elkhart, Ind.
Baldwin was assigned to the brigade headquarters; Wagstaff, McClellan and Calhoun were assigned to the 5th Battalion; and Powell was assigned to the 6th Battalion.
NBC News and The Associated Press contributed to this report.