Iowa man among servicemen killed in helicopter crash

soldier silhouette

(CNN) — The Defense Department has released the names of the five U.S. service members who were killed when a helicopter crashed in southern Afghanistan on Monday, March 11, 2013.

They are:

– Staff Sgt. Steven P. Blass, 27, of Estherville, Iowa. He was assigned to the 4th Battalion, 3rd Aviation Regiment, 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, Hunter Army Airfield, Georgia.

– Chief Warrant Officer Bryan J. Henderson, 27, of Franklin, Louisiana. He was assigned to the 4th Battalion, 3rd Aviation Regiment, 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, Hunter Army Airfield, Georgia.

– Capt. Sara M. Knutson, 27, of Eldersburg, Maryland. She was assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, Hunter Army Airfield, Georgia.

– Staff Sgt. Marc A. Scialdo, 31, of Naples, Florida. He was assigned to the 603rd Aviation Support Battalion, 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, Hunter Army Airfield, Georgia.

– Spc. Zachary L. Shannon, 21, of Dunedin, Florida. He was assigned to the 4th Battalion, 3rd Aviation Regiment, 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, Hunter Army Airfield, Georgia.

The chopper went down Monday in the Daman district of southern Kandahar during a rain storm, said Jawid Faisal, a government spokesman for the province.

There was no enemy activity in the area at the time of the incident, according to a statement by the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).

It was the first coalition helicopter crash with fatalities since September, when two separate crashes killed a total of 11 coalition service members.

One occurred in early September, killing two; the other in the third week, killing seven service members and injuring two more.

There were no reports of enemy fire in either of those incidents.

In August 2011, a helicopter went down killing at least 30 U.S. service members, the single deadliest loss for U.S. troops in the Afghan war. Insurgents shot down the CH-47 Chinook, which was carrying 25 U.S. special operations forces.

Some the those who died belonged to the same covert unit that conducted the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, though they were not the same men, a military official said at the time.

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