KANEOHE (HawaiiNewsNow) - We now know the names of two of the six Marines who died Thursday when their helicopter crashed in the dangerous Helmand province of Afghanistan. They were experienced crewmembers who'd done multiple tours overseas.
40 year old MSgt. Travis Riddick loved the Marines, loved flying, and loved his country.
"He served three tours in Iraq and two tours in Afghanistan," says Riddick's father, John. "He was there when they first when into Iraq, the first day."
The Centerville, Iowa native was a crew chief flying on a CH-53-D Sea Stallion helicopter when it went down in the treacherous terrain of southern Afghanistan. John Riddick got the news no parent wants to hear. "They came to the door and expressed their sympathies and told me that my son had been killed in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan, outside of Mosul."
25 year old Corporal, Kevin Reinhard, from Woodbridge, New Jersey, was on his second overseas tour. Family and friends say he was already a hero to them - even before he put his uniform on. Reinhard and Riddick were part of a six man crew. All perished in the crash. Investigators are still piecing together what happened.
"We are looking at it. We are trying to find out the background behind the incident. To us, it looks, at this moment, like a technical mistake," says BG Carsten Jacobson from the International Security Assistance Force that's investigating the crash.
Initially, the Taliban claimed responsibility but the military says, at this point, there's no indication enemy fire was involved, at all.
The CH-53-D Sea Stallion that crashed in Afghanistan is the same model of helicopter that went down during a training mission at the Kaneohe sandbar last March. Marine Jonathan Faircloth was killed in that incident.
Word has been traveling fast around the base in Kaneohe. At The Regulation barber shop in Aikahi, troops told us about the dangers of the job in Helmand.
"I'm not a big fan of helo rides," says Sgt. Daniel Hilsdorf. "Most Marines do not like riding helicopters; although, if you look at the numbers, they're extremely safe. And it's a really good alternative to driving 'cause you don't have the threat of IEDs, most of the time, or gunfire or anything like that."
"It's definitely close to the heart because you get involved with these guys, day in and day out. They're not just guys that you work with. You're brothers, at that point," explains Corpsman Nathan Britt, a Navy medic who works at Kaneohe with the Marines.