MOSUL, Iraq—The flag-draped coffins of two U.S. Army helicopter pilots who died in the crash of an OH-58D Kiowa Warrior helicopter on Friday were ceremoniously placed aboard a U.S. Air Force C-130 transport plane on Saturday on the first leg of a sad journey home.
Fellow aviators, joined by everyone within sight of the aircraft at Mosul airfield, stood at attention and then rendered honors, a hand salute, as the coffins were marched aboard the Air Force plane in a procession led by a U.S. Army chaplain. The Pentagon has not yet released their names.
The two pilots were flying cover over a ground patrol by Charlie Company, 2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry, 172nd Stryker Brigade when their small two-man helicopter came under fire.
The Kiowa Warrior helicopter crashed into an excavated pit in a poor neighborhood in eastern Mosul, narrowly missing a field filled with the mud and metal huts of squatters.
The Charlie Company Strykers were on the scene within two minutes of learning that the helicopter had gone down. They ripped apart the mangled metal wreckage to bring out the two aviators, one already dead, the other dying.