Local, State and Federal Representatives React to Helicopter Crash
Jennifer Lewerenz | Dec 6, 2019 AT 9:41 am
(KNSI) - Local, state and federal representatives are reacting to the news of the fatal Minnesota National Guard helicopter crash near St. Cloud Thursday afternoon.
Three members of the Minnesota National Guard were killed when their UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter crashed into a tree line near a gravel pit southwest of Pearl Lake Thursday afternoon.
St. Cloud Mayor Dave Kleis, who himself is an Air Force veteran tweeted, "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."
St. Cloud area Representative Dan Wolgamott also took to twitter saying, "My thoughts are with the families and loved ones of those on board, and our first responders working tirelessly to help."
State Senators Jeff Howe, R-Rockville, and Jerry Relph, R-St. Cloud, and Reps. Tim O’Driscoll, R-Sartell, Lisa Demuth, R-Cold Spring, and Tama Theis, R-St. Cloud, issued the following joint statement in the wake of a National Guard helicopter crash near Kimball claiming the lives of three service members Thursday afternoon. Howe served the National Guard for 35 years before retiring in 2017. Relph is a former Marine officer and a Vietnam veteran.
“Our hearts are heavy with the loss of these three National Guard soldiers and our prayers are with them, their families and the Minnesota National Guard. While this particular unit is mobilized for overseas deployment, the fact this tragedy occurred on native soil reminds us of the challenges our soldiers face every day – including when presumably safe at home. God bless these American heroes and, again, please keep the families they left behind in your hearts and prayers, for the sacrifices they have made are something most of us will never know.”
Minnesota Senator Tina Smith chimed in on social media calling the loss devastating, adding, "Words can’t express my sadness for these three soldiers and their families. I’m thinking of all Minnesota National Guard members and their families tonight."
Minnesota Senator and 2020 Democratic presidential hopeful Amy Klobuchar emailed a statement saying, "Today three brave Minnesota National Guard soldiers made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation. I am deeply saddened, and their service to our state and our nation will never be forgotten. In Minnesota we wrap our arms around our brave men and women who make such immense sacrifices to keep our nation strong and free. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and loved ones of these brave service members and with the entire Minnesota National Guard community, at home and overseas.”
Representative Bob Dettmer of Forest Lake issued a statement on behalf of the Minnesota House Republican Caucus, saying, “We are heartbroken and devastated by the loss of three heroic Minnesotans. Our prayers tonight are with the families of the crew members, our National Guard Commander-in-Chief Governor Walz, and Adjutant General Jensen. We also are tremendously grateful for our first responders who rushed to the crash site from the region and other parts of the state.” Rep. Dettmer is a 25 year veteran of the United States Army Reserves and serves as the Republican Lead on the House Veterans and Military Affairs Division.
The Co-Chair of Veterans for Trump Campaign, Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry issued a statement, saying, "We should always remember the sacrifices that those who serve make in order to protect freedom. Every mission, at home or abroad, comes with risk; a risk that brave men and women stand ready to take on at a moment’s notice. Our nation stands eternally grateful for the bravery and sacrifice of members of the Minnesota National Guard. Our prayers go out to their families and fellow guardsmen - may the Lord keep them close during this time of great sorrow.”
The crew was on a maintenance test mission and had taken off from the St. Cloud Army Aviation Facility around 2:00. Nine minutes later, the air traffic control tower received a mayday call from the helicopter. The wreckage was discovered around two hours later.