Friends and Colleagues Remember Soldiers
Jennifer Lewerenz | Dec 9, 2019 AT 12:11 pm
(KNSI) - Caring, loving, and dedicated are just a few of the words friends and fellow soldiers are using to remember their brothers who were killed in a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter crash southwest of St. Cloud Thursday.
The three were all assigned to Company C, 2-211th General Support Aviation Battalion, based in St. Cloud, and had just returned home in May from a nine-month deployment to the Middle East in support of Operation Spartan Shield and Operation Inherent Resolve.
Flight paramedic Nicholas Arrigoni, who served alongside the three both stateside and overseas, remembers 30-year-old Chief Warrant Officer 2, Charles Nord, as a very calm person.
"Chuck was the laid back one, very, very easygoing, fun to be around."
Nord was married with a two-year-old daughter and had another child on the way. Arrigoni says he talked a lot about fatherhood.
"The last flight we were on, we were actually talking about his kid, and having to watch the shows that he has to watch all the time and then expecting as well again."
Company Commander Bill Alms says Nord had a radiance about him.
"I don't think I'd ever seen him upset. Most of the people I've talked to have never seen him upset. He was always the guy that just kind of brought energy to a group."
Arrigoni described 28-year-old Sergeant Kort Plantenberg as dedicated.
"Kort was extremely dedicated to his job. You work long days, long hours, incredibly smart."
Major Sean Spencer, who worked with Plantenberg stateside, echoed that statement saying, "Kort was a super smart, super smart individual. Always happy. He kind of amazed me. So we had a flight operation specialist position open up that he applied for. His name was forwarded as one of the candidates. So with a day's notice, Kort came up and asked for study materials so he could kind of get a leg up and figure out what the job was all about and entailed. Within a day's time, Kort had memorized all the regulations to include the paragraphs, so we would ask him a question, Kort was able to name the paragraph, or name the regulation and the paragraph. He would say that 'I don't know what it says, but I know that's where you find it.' So yeah. So very impressive. Very impressive."
Plantenberg was born in St. Cloud, graduated from Albany Area High School in 2010, and enlisted in 2016. He currently lived in Avon.
Arrigoni says that 28-year-old Chief Warrant Officer 2 James Rogers had a great sense of humor, but had a serious sense of duty.
"James was the goofball. He was the one to make jokes and laugh and have a good time. One thing that sticks out to me about him, though, was when it was game time, his serious face went on pretty quick."
Major Alms recently took over command of the company. He says this is every commander's worst nightmare and spoke about how hard it has been to deal with the tragedy.
"We train, and we put lots of controls in place, and we always lay awake at night, praying that nothing like this ever happens. So it's been a very difficult couple of days to, helping the unit with the initial acceptance and the message and then trying to start the grieving process. Ultimately, our focus is on each other, helping. Like I said, people grieve, work through the debrief process, and really trying to lead the unit back to where Northstar Dustoff will fly again."
Arrigoni says the three were loving, caring, and dedicated to the mission. He says everyone is taking the news very hard.
"We're all grieving together. The Northstar Dustoff community is a family. So we'll get through it together, but there's going to be some long days, long weeks, months, years ahead without them. But we'll continue to honor them, and when we're ready, we'll start flying again, and we'll do it in honor of them."
An investigation group from Fort Rucker, Alabama, is on the scene trying to figure out what caused their UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter to go down Thursday afternoon southwest of St. Cloud. It crashed while on a routine maintenance test flight. Officials with the Minnesota National Guard have not said what specific sort of maintenance was being conducted on the helicopter before the crash.