Idaho National Guard Identifies 3 Soldiers Killed in Black Hawk Crash

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Jesse Anderson, George “Geoff” Laubhan, Matthew Peltzer.
Chief Warrant Officer 4 Jesse Anderson, 43 (left); Chief Warrant Officer 3 George “Geoff” Laubhan, 39 (center); and Chief Warrant Officer 3 Matthew Peltzer, 43 (right). (Images courtesy of U.S. Army)

The Idaho National Guard on Thursday released the names of three soldiers killed Tuesday night when their UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter crashed in bad weather over mountainous terrain.

Chief Warrant Officer 4 Jesse Anderson and CW3 George "Geoff" Laubhan and Matthew Peltzer died during a routine training mission, according to an Idaho Guard news release.

There were no other personnel aboard the aircraft.

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All of the soldiers were pilots with experience in flying missions in adverse weather conditions, but the cause of the crash is unknown and remains under investigation, Idaho Guard officials said.

Maj. Gen. Michael Garshak, adjutant general of Idaho and commander of the Idaho National Guard, said the sudden loss of the three soldiers is tragic for the community.

"I have received numerous messages of condolence from many people here in Idaho and throughout the nation, and all of your thoughts, prayers and support are sincerely appreciated and much needed," Garshak said in the release. "It is very comforting, at such a challenging time, to have the care and support of so many."

Anderson, a 43-year-old Boise, Idaho, resident, was a senior instructor pilot and had served in the Idaho Guard since 2008. He is survived by his wife and four children, according to the release.

Laubhan, 39, also lived in Boise and served as an instructor pilot. He had been with the Idaho Guard since 2010 and is survived by his wife and two children, the release adds.

Peltzer, 43, lived in Nampa, Idaho, and had served as a pilot during his 15 years in the Idaho Guard. He is survived by his wife and two children, according to the release.

The three pilots took off from Gowen Field in Boise at approximately 6:50 p.m. Tuesday evening to participate in a routine training mission in the Nap of the Earth Training Area, where pilots practice low-level flying.

They communicated several times with the flight operations center during the flight; their last contact occurred at 7:45 p.m. The pilots radioed that they had completed the training mission and that the weather was deteriorating with heavy snowfall, Guard officials say.

About 20 minutes later, members of the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center located at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, contacted the Idaho Guard to say they had received an active emergency locator transmitter signal from the crashed aircraft.

The Idaho Guard's air and ground rescue teams, searching in bad weather and rough terrain, located the crash site at approximately 12:15 a.m. Wednesday and confirmed that none of the pilots had survived the crash.

An investigation team from the Army Aviation Safety Center at Fort Rucker, Alabama, will work to determine the cause of the accident.

The Idaho Guard announced Wednesday that it has suspended all flight operations to review its safety procedures. Flying at night in bad weather was nothing new for pilots, who trained frequently to conduct search-and-rescue operations, Lt. Col. Nicole Washington, commander of the Idaho Guard's 1st Battalion, 183rd Aviation Regiment, told reporters Wednesday afternoon.

Tuesday's crash follows a similar tragedy in which three New York Guard pilots were killed in a Black Hawk crash Jan. 20 during a routine training mission.

-- Matthew Cox can be reached at matthew.cox@military.com.

Related: Idaho Guard Halts Flight Operations After Black Hawk Crash in Bad Weather Kills 3

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