Skip to main content

The Guard’s base near St. Cloud Regional Airport has been in operation since 2009.

TYRONE SIU/REUTERS

Three soldiers from the Minnesota National Guard were killed Thursday when the Black Hawk helicopter they were riding in for a routine maintenance test flight crashed in a farm field in central Minnesota, Gov. Tim Walz confirmed.

The identities of the soldiers were not immediately released, pending notification of family.

The crash was being investigated and preliminary information on the cause was not released.

Story continues below advertisement

“My heart breaks for the families, the friends and fellow soldiers,” Walz said at a news conference. “The coming days will be dark and difficult.” He said Minnesota stands ready to assist the families of the soldiers who were killed.

Maj. Gen. Jon Jensen, the adjutant general of the Minnesota National Guard, said in a tweet: “Our Minnesota National Guard family is devastated by the deaths of these soldiers. Our priority right now is ensuring that our families are taken care of.”

The National Guard said the helicopter was a UH-60 Black Hawk from the guard’s Army Aviation Safety Facility in St. Cloud.

The Guard lost contact with the helicopter shortly after it took off on a maintenance test flight from St. Cloud on Thursday afternoon, Guard Master Sgt. Blair Heusdens said. The helicopter called mayday about nine minutes after takeoff.

Stearns County Chief Sheriff’s Deputy Dan Miller told reporters that the mayday call came in at about 2:15 p.m. Crews from multiple departments spent several hours searching before finding the crash, Miller said.

The Minnesota State Patrol was called to bring in a helicopter to help with the search. A State Patrol Cirrus aircraft, equipped with thermal imaging cameras, also helped in the search.

Television aerial footage showed the wreck of the helicopter along a tree line near open fields near St. Cloud, a city about 95 kilometres northwest of Minneapolis. Apparent scorch marks encircled the flattened wreckage in the snow.

Story continues below advertisement

Dave Tannehill, a flight instructor in St. Cloud, was among those who took to the air to help search for the missing helicopter. He told the Star Tribune that he brought a couple people with him to help look.

“We were hoping to find a helicopter sitting in the middle of a field with a couple guys standing next to it looking for a ride. But not lucky enough to find that,” he said. Tannehill said he was in the air for about 90 minutes and circled the area, along with a military plane and police aircraft.

“It was bad news for everyone, and it was a quiet flight back,” Tannehill said.

The Guard’s base near St. Cloud Regional Airport has been in operation since 2009, with Black Hawk and Chinook helicopters maintained there.

Walz served for 24 years in the Army National Guard, while he was a schoolteacher and coach, but retired in 2005 to run for Congress. He cancelled a tree-lighting ceremony Thursday and went to the area near the crash site.

He tweeted Thursday night that he was in Kimball with the brave National Guard service members. His office said he would be in continuous contact with the National Guard throughout the day Friday.

Story continues below advertisement

Our Morning Update and Evening Update newsletters are written by Globe editors, giving you a concise summary of the day’s most important headlines. Sign up today.

Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Cannabis pro newsletter
To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies