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TSgt. John Brown                        TSgt. Daniel Zerbe                      SSgt. Andrew Harvell  

Aug. 11, 2011—The Defense Department on Thursday announced that three airmen were among the 30 US military personnel and eight Afghans killed in the Aug. 6 crash of an Army CH-47 Chinook helicopter in Wardak Province, Afghanistan.

The airmen were TSgt. John Brown, 33, of Tallahassee, Fla.; TSgt. Daniel Zerbe, 28, of York, Pa.; and SSgt. Andrew Harvell, 26, of Long Beach, Calif. All were assigned to Air Force Special Operations Command's 24th Special Tactics Squadron at Pope Field, N.C. In addition to the airmen, 22 Navy SEALs, five Army aircrew, and eight Afghan soldiers perished, making it the single most deadly incident for US forces in Afghanistan since the beginning of the war in 2001.

"Their deaths are a reminder of the extraordinary sacrifices made by the men and women of our military and their families, including all who have served in Afghanistan," said President Obama in an Aug. 6 statement from the White House.

The Chinook was attacked by small-arms fire and likely downed by a rocket propelled grenade, stated Marine Corps Gen. John R. Allen, commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan. A more complete investigation was still ongoing.

Two days after the Chinook went down, Air Force F-16s launched a precision airstrike that killed the insurgents responsible. This operation was a "continuation of the original mission" targeting terrorist leaders in Wardak, officials said. "This does not ease our loss, but we must, and we will, continue to relentlessly pursue the enemy," Allen said Aug. 10.