The Minnesota National Guard has identified the three soldiers who died in the crash of a Black Hawk helicopter on Thursday near St. Cloud.
The Guard on Saturday morning said the crew members who died were 30-year-old Chief Warrant Officer 2 Charles Nord of Perham, 28-year-old Chief Warrant Officer 2 James Rogers Jr. of Winsted, and 28-year-old Sgt. Kort Plantenberg of Avon.
All three were assigned to the St. Cloud-based Company C, 2-211th General Support Aviation Battalion. Earlier this year the unit — including the three soldiers — returned from a nine-month deployment to the Middle East where they conducted medical evacuations.
According to biographical information provided by the Guard:
Nord was born in Breckenridge and graduated from Perham High School in 2007.
He joined the Guard the same year as an M1 armor crewman, and later became a UH-60 Black Hawk aeromedical evacuation pilot. He is survived by his wife, 2-year-old daughter, and another child expected.
Rogers was born in Madelia and graduated from St. James High School in 2010.
He enlisted in the Guard in 2009 as a field artillery specialist, and later became a UH-60 Black Hawk pilot.
Plantenberg was born in St. Cloud, graduated from Albany Area High School in 2009 and enlisted in the Guard in 2016 as an aircraft electrician.
He was preparing to start the state warrant officer program next March, followed by flight school.
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz issued a statement after the names were released.
"On behalf of all Minnesotans, Gwen and I offer our deepest sympathies to the families of Chief Warrant Officer Two Charles Nord, Chief Warrant Officer Two James Rogers, and Sergeant Kort Plantenberg. They paid the ultimate price in their service to Minnesota and to the United States of America. Words will never ease the pain of this tragic loss and the state of Minnesota is forever in the debt of these warriors," Walz said.
Walz has ordered flags to fly at half staff until Monday in the soldiers' memory.
EarlierMaintenance test flights routine for military choppers
Earlier3 soldiers killed in Minnesota National Guard helicopter crash near St. Cloud
Guard officials are scheduled to release more information at a news conference on Saturday afternoon in St. Cloud.
The UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter took off from St. Cloud around 2 p.m. Thursday for what the Guard described as a “maintenance test flight,” and the pilots called mayday about nine minutes after takeoff.
Stearns County authorities said it took several hours to find the craft following the mayday signal. Emergency responders, including an aviation rescue team from St. Paul, rushed to the scene after it was discovered by a State Patrol helicopter in trees by a field about 16 miles from St. Cloud, near Kimball, Minn.
Investigators from Fort Rucker, Ala., are expected to arrive Saturday in Stearns County. They will spend several days investigating the crash scene.
The Black Hawk is the Army's standard utility helicopter. It's used to transport troops and equipment, for air assaults and as a medevac for the wounded.