A U.S. Army National Guard helicopter crashed approximately 25 miles southeast of Houston Wednesday, killing both crew members, the Texas National Guard said in a statement.
The helicopter, an AH-64 Apache gunship, belonged to the Texas Army National Guard’s 36th Combat Aviation Brigade and had been flying from nearby Ellington field on a training mission when it crashed at around 3:50 p.m. near the Bayport Cruise Terminal in Pasadena, Texas.
The Texas National Guard said Coast Guard helicopter and boat crews, along with local first responders, had been dispatched to the scene following the accident. Local news footage from the crash site showed what appeared to be part of a rotor blade near the terminal and The Associated Press reported that witnesses saw the helicopter break apart in mid-air.
“Our deepest sympathies, thoughts and prayers are with their families,” the statement said. “The incident is under investigation and further information will be released as it becomes available.”
Names of the deceased are often held for 24 hours pending the notification of their next-of-kin.
In April, two Apaches crashed into each other during takeoff from Camp Humphreys in South Korea. Four soldiers were injured in the incident.
The Apache is the U.S. Army’s premier helicopter gunship and is designed to support ground troops with an array of weapons, including a 30mm cannon and Hellfire missiles. The 36th Combat Aviation Brigade’s Apache unit, the 1st of the 149th Attack Reconnaissance Battalion recently retired its fleet of older Apaches in 2012, replacing them with AH-64D Longbow variant, according to a recent history of the unit.
(c) 2016, The Washington Post · Thomas Gibbons-Neff