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Soldiers killed in military helicopter crash in Mississippi identified

The fallen were identified as Chief Warrant Officer 4 Bryan Andrew Zemek, 36; and Chief Warrant Officer 4 Derek Joshua Abbott, 42. Both were based in Tupelo.
An AH-64 Apache in Mississippi in 2021.
An AH-64 Apache in Mississippi in 2021.DVIDS file

Two soldiers were killed during a training flight Friday when their military attack helicopter crashed near the small city of Booneville, Mississippi, Gov. Tate Reeves said.

The governor identified the fallen Saturday as Chief Warrant Officer 4 Bryan Andrew, 36, serving as an AH-64 Delta Apache instructor; and Chief Warrant Officer 4 Derek Joshua Abbott, 42, serving as a maintenance test pilot.

“We will always remember the dedicated soldiers for their honorable service, and we grieve with the families during this tragic time,” Reeves said at a news conference Saturday,

Zemek was a member of Alpha Company 1st Battalion, 149th Aviation Regiment, and Abbott was a member of Delta Company of the 2nd Battalion, 151st Lakota Medical Evacuation unit.

Both were based at the Mississippi National Guard's Army Aviation Support Facility 2 in Tupelo, Reeves said. The facility is about 20 miles south of the crash site.

"Our hearts are truly broken at the loss of these two members of our family," Maj. Gen. Janson D. Boyles, commander of the Mississippi National Guard, said at the news conference.

The state-based force said in a statement Friday that it was prioritizing "proper casualty assistance" for the family members of the two people killed.

The two-seat AH-64 Apache was on a routine training flight when it was reported down in a wooded area about 2 p.m., the Mississippi National Guard said in a statement.

The sheriff of Prentiss County, Randy Tolar, told NBC affiliate WLBT of Jackson that the aircraft went down off Highway 30 near Mount Olive Baptist Church.

The church is in the town of Baldwyn, which is in Prentiss and Lee counties in northeast Mississippi. Baldwyn is about 11 miles south of Booneville.

Shortly before the crash, at least two wind gusts measuring 21 mph were registered in Booneville, according to National Weather Service data. The temperature was 64 degrees.

On Feb. 6, a CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter traveling from Creech Air Force Base, Nevada, to Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California, crashed amid a winter storm, killing all five U.S. Marines on board, officials said.

And in April 2023, two U.S. Army AH-64 Apache helicopters returning to Fort Wainwright in Fairbanks, Alaska, after a training flight collided, killing three soldiers and injuring a fourth, the 11th Airborne Division said

The Friday incident is under investigation, the Mississippi National Guard said.