Families Await Word After Iraq Crash
Nov. 16, 2003
FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. (AP) _ Cherrieann Diaz anxiously waited for updates from Iraq on Saturday night, hopeful that no uniformed chaplain would visit her home.
Like many in this military town, Diaz was desperate for information following Saturday's collision and crash in Mosul of two Black Hawk helicopters belonging to the 101st Airborne Division. Seventeen soldiers aboard the helicopters were killed and five were injured; one person was unaccounted for.
``If you see someone in a dress uniform, it's a really scary thing,'' said Diaz, whose husband is a brigade command sergeant major in the 101st. ``Everybody's just waiting to find anything out.''
Saturday's crash comes just over a week after a crew of four from the 101st was killed near Tikrit when its Black Hawk was downed by a rocket-propelled grenade.
Before Saturday, 36 Fort Campbell soldiers had died in Operation Iraqi Freedom. There was no immediate word on how many from the 101st were killed in the latest crash.
Quetsy Soto, 28, has been married for two years to a soldier, who has been in Afghanistan or Iraq most of that time.
The 20,000-plus strong 101st, an air-assault division, is not scheduled to begin returning until February _ one year after it left.
Soto said she was frustrated by the long deployment and the rising number of deaths.
``It's not so much anger as being sick of it,'' Soto said.
Soto smoked a cigarette outside a tattoo parlor with Cherish Caine, whose husband, a Fort Campbell soldier, is on leave for two weeks.
Caine said every time she hears of a death, ``you're thankful it's not yours, but at the same time it could be yours one day.''
The cause of the crash was not immediately known. Some soldiers at the scene said at least one of the Black Hawks may have been hit by ground fire. Witnesses said the two Black Hawks collided and came down in a residential area of western Mosul.
The 101st is the only division of the four now in Iraq that participated in the drive to Baghdad last spring.
``The 101st Airborne Division remains committed to accomplishing its mission of maintaining of a safe and secure environment in northern Iraq so that the re-establishment of government institutions can go forward,'' a statement by the U.S. command said.