5 Ft. Riley soldiers among those killed in Tuesday's crash - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

5 Ft. Riley soldiers among those killed in Tuesday's helicopter crash

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FORT RILEY, KS (KCTV) -

Six soldiers were killed in a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter crash in southern Afghanistan Tuesday, five of them were based at Fort Riley.

The five soldiers were assigned to the 1st Infantry Division's 1st Combat Aviation Brigade. 

"We offer our heartfelt condolences to the families and friends of these 'Big Red One' Soldiers," Maj. Gen. Paul E. Funk II, 1st Inf. Div. and Fort Riley commanding general, said in a written release. "We stand ready to support them and I urge our community and the nation, while remembering their sacrifices this holiday season, to do the same."

The cause of crash is under investigation.

"Americans will be forever indebted to these brave soldiers who laid down their lives for our country," U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran, R-KS, wrote in a statement. "As we pay tribute to their service and sacrifice, we are reminded that freedom is not free. I ask all Kansans to join me in remembering their families, friends and the Ft. Riley community in our thoughts and prayers."

Killed were:

Chief Warrant Officer 2 Randy L. Billings, 34, Oklahoma, of Company B, 3rd Assault Helicopter Battalion, 1st Aviation Regiment, 1st CAB, 1st Inf. Div., Fort Riley, KS.

Chief Warrant Officer 2 Joshua B. Silverman, 35, Arizona, of Co. B, 3rd AHB, 1st Avn. Regt., 1st CAB, 1st Inf. Div., Fort Riley, KS.

Sgt. 1st Class Omar W. Forde, 28, Marietta, GA, of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st CAB, 1st Inf. Div., Fort Riley, KS.

Sgt. Peter C. Bohler, 29, Willow Spring, NC, of Co. B, 3rd AHB, 1st Avn. Regt., 1st CAB, 1st Inf. Div., Fort Riley, KS.

Spc. Terry K.D. Gordon, 22, Shubuta, MS, of Company E, 1st Squadron, 6th Cavalry Regiment, 1st CAB, 1st Inf. Div., Fort Riley, KS.

Also killed was Staff Sgt. Jesse Williams of the 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment, Vilseck, Germany.

The soldiers were conducting military operations in southern Afghanistan when the Black Hawk crashed. The cause of the incident is under investigation.

An on-site military post memorial is planned for them for early January.

The mood was somber at Fort Riley on Thursday as fellow members of the military mourned their loss and know how quickly death can take someone. 

"They served the country right," said Sgt. Patrick Yekaldo. "They did what they had to do, and it's sad we can't see them come home and celebrate with them. My prayers are to the family."

According to a Fort Riley page, as of Nov. 16, 2012 (latest announced casualty), 208 Fort Riley Soldiers, Airmen and Sailors have been killed while serving in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn.

KCTV5's DeAnn Smith contributed to this report.

Copyright 2013 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.

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