Three soldiers missing since their UH-60 Black Hawk crashed off the island of Oahu have been declared dead, the Army announced Saturday night.
The Armed Forces Medical Examiner declared 1st Lt. Kathryn Bailey, Staff Sgt. Abigail Milam and Sgt. Michael Nelson deceased after analysis of organic matter discovered among recovered debris matched their DNA, officials said in a statement.
Five soldiers were on board the Black Hawk when it crashed on Aug. 15. The remaining two crew members are still considered duty status ― whereabouts unknown, or DUSTWUN. They are Chief Warrant Officer 3 Brian Woeber and Chief Warrant Officer 2 Stephen Cantrell.
All five soldiers belong to 2nd Battalion, 25th Aviation Regiment, 25th Combat Aviation Brigade, 25th Infantry Division.
Two Black Hawk crews were conducting a night training mission between Kaena Point and Oahu’s Dillingham Airfield northwest of Honolulu when communications were lost, officials said.
Search and rescue operations for the crew were suspended Aug. 21 after the soldiers could not be located.
Bailey, 26, entered active-duty military service in August 2015 as an aviation officer.
Milam, 33, joined the Army in August 2011 as a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter repairer.
Nelson, 30, joined the Army in July 2006, also as a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter repairer. He had deployed twice to Afghanistan.
The circumstances of this incident are currently under investigation.
Officials are warning the public that any debris from the crash is considered hazardous and should only be recovered by recovery teams with the proper training and personal protective equipment.
Anyone who sees debris consistent with a Black Hawk along the north and west side of Oahu and the southern and eastern sides of Kauai are asked to call the 25th Combat Aviation Brigade staff duty officer at (808) 656-1080.
Michelle Tan is the editor of Army Times and Air Force Times. She has covered the military for Military Times since 2005, and has embedded with U.S. troops in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Haiti, Gabon and the Horn of Africa.