BAGHDAD, IRAQ - All 14 American soldiers on board a U.S. helicopter have been killed in a crash in northern Iraq, and K8 News has learned that one of those soldiers was apparently from the Missouri Bootheel, identified as Ricky Bell of Caruthersville.
As of yet, there has been no official release of identies of those killed in the crash, but sources in Caruthersville say Bell was on the aircraft. A spokewoman with the Caruthersville School District says administrators there have been informed by a non-military source that Bell was killed in the crash. Bell was a 2004 graduate of Caruthersville High School.
The Pentagon says the Black Hawk helicopter was one of two taking part in a night-time operation. A statement says there is no indication that it was shot down. Early signs point to some sort of mechanical problem.
The four crewmembers and ten soldiers on board were assigned to Task Force Lightning.
Because of ambushes and roadside bombs, the military relies heavily on helicopters to move troops around. But dozens of choppers have crashed, either from accidents or hostile fire.
The latest crash is the worst since January 2005. That's when a Sea Stallion transport went down in a sandstorm in western Iraq, killing 31 Americans.