Archbishop Timothy Broglio, the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and archbishop for the Military Services, USA, offered prayers for the nine American soldiers who died in a tragic accident during a helicopter training exercise in Kentucky on Wednesday evening.
“The tragic helicopter crash in Kentucky is a grim reminder of the risks taken daily by our men and women in uniform. They put themselves in harm’s way to defend our freedom, our values, our way of life. In the process some pay the ultimate sacrifice,” Archbishop Broglio said in a March 31 statement.
The nine soldiers were in the U.S. Army’s 101st Combat Aviation Brigade, based at Fort Campbell, Ken. The accident occurred in Trigg County, Kentucky, which is about a 38-minute drive away from Fort Campbell.
“We pray for the repose of the souls of the nine soldiers who died. May Almighty God welcome them to life eternal, and may their devotion to service, God, and country stand always as an example for us all,” Archbishop Broglio said.
He also offered prayers for the families of the soldiers “in this time of extreme grief.”
“May our Blessed Mother of Sorrows comfort them in this painful hour,” Archbishop Broglio added.
The 101st Airborne Division said in a March 30 press release that the two helicopters were Blackhawks, the Army’s utility tactical transport helicopter. The helicopter “provide[s] air assault, general support, aeromedical evacuation, command and control, and special operations support to combat, stability, and support operations,” according to the U.S. Army.
The accident occurred at about 10 p.m., the press release said. An investigation into the crash is being conducted by an aviation safety team from Fort Rucker, Alabama, the release said.
“This is a truly tragic loss for these families, our division, and Fort Campbell. Our No. 1 priority is caring for the families and the soldiers within our combat aviation brigade,” Brig. Gen. John Lubas, the 101st Airborne Division deputy commanding general for operations, said in the release.
“Our entire Fort Campbell community is surging resources in support. Our thoughts and prayers are with these families and soldiers during this difficult time,” he added, according to a Catholic News Agency report.
The identities of the nine soldiers have not been released.
Speaking at a press conference on the accident, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said that the nine soldiers are “children of God.”
“We are blessed to live in the freest country in the history of planet Earth. We must remember that freedom relies on those who are willing to serve, some of whom pay the ultimate price,” he said.