ST. CLOUD, MN — Three Minnesota National Guard soldiers were killed Thursday afternoon when a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter crashed in central Minnesota. The chopper took flight from the Army Aviation Safety Facility in St. Cloud, and crashed southwest of the city.
“My heart breaks for the families, the friends and fellow soldiers,” said Gov. Tim Walz in a news conference. Walz himself served in the National Guard for more than two decades.
“The coming days will be dark and difficult.”
“Our Minnesota National Guard family is devastated by the deaths of these soldiers,” said Maj. Gen. Jon Jensen, the Adjutant General of the Minnesota National Guard, in a statement. “Our priority right now is ensuring that our families are taken care of.”
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The Army National Guard said it lost contact with the Black Hawk just after 2 p.m. The chopper was conducting a maintenance test flight. The National Guard and local emergency services then began trying to locate the Black Hawk.
“Our first priority is the safety and well-being of our Guardsmen and our thoughts are with our soldiers and their families at this time,” the Minnesota National Guard said before the craft was found.
The Minnesota State Patrol and the Minnesota Aviation Rescue Team (MART) — which includes crews from the St. Paul Fire Department — assisted in the search Thursday.