Identities Revealed In Blackhawk Helicopter Crash

BRYAN-COLLEGE STATION, Texas-- A Texas National Guard UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter crashed shortly after takeoff at Duncan Field at Texas A&M University, during a routine mission flight shuttling cadets from the university to Camp Swift, Texas.

One active-duty Soldier was killed in the crash, and four National Guard Soldiers were injured.

2nd Lt. Zachary Cook, 22, a native of Lufkin, Texas and a December 2008 graduate of the Texas A&M University, was killed in the incident.  Lt. Cook was a member of the Reserve Officers' Training Corps cadre at Texas A&M University.

The Soldiers injured in the incident were 1st Lt. Ellis W. Taylor, 31, B Co., 449th Aviation Support Battalion (ASB), from Buda, Texas; Chief Warrant Officer 2 Matthew J. Smith, 41, C Co., 1/108th Avn. Reg., from Leander, Texas; Sgt. Richard D. Ravenscraft, 24, 71st Brigade Forward Support Bn. (BFSB), from Austin, Texas; and Sgt. Charles C. Mitts, 42, C Co., 1/108th Avn. Reg., from Spring, Texas.

Chief Smith and Sgt. Mitts are listed in critical condition.  Lt. Ellis and Sgt. Ravenscraft are listed in stable condition.

Lt. Ellis, Chief Smith and Sgt. Mitts deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) from 2006 to 2007.  Sgt. Ravenscraft deployed in support of OIF in 2007, returning in 2008.

Both C Co., 108th Avn. Reg. and 449th ASB are based at the National Guard armory at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport in Austin, Texas.  The 71st BFSB is located in Austin, Texas.

"Our entire Texas National Guard community extends heartfelt sympathies to the family of Lt. Zachary Cook, who died yesterday afternoon in the helicopter crash at Texas A&M University," said Lt. Gen. Charles G. Rodriguez, commander of the Texas Military Forces.

"We also extend our sympathies and respects to Texas A&M University, its Corps of Cadets, the U.S. Army Cadet Command and Bryan/College Station emergency services for their selfless devotion to duty and professional response yesterday."

"Our efforts now are to meet the needs of the families of our four injured Texas Army National Guard soldiers and to ensure that they are supported in every way. Prayers are lifted now to guide the medical professionals attending to our injured soldiers and for their recovery," said Gen. Rodriguez.

The accident is under investigation by the Combat Readiness/Safety Center, Ft. Rucker, Ala., home of the U.S. Army Aviation Center.