Sinai helicopter crash claims seven, five of them U.S. soldiers

CW3 Dallas Gearld Garza

The U.S. Army this morning identified five U.S. soldiers killed Thursday in a helicopter crash that claimed seven and injured one while on a Multinational Force and Observers (MFO) peacekeeping mission in the Sinai.

Captain Seth Vernon Vandekamp, 31, Katy, Texas, Chief Warrant Officer 3 Dallas Gearld Garza, 34, Fayetteville, North Carolina, Chief Warrant Officer 2 Marwan Sameh Ghabour, 27, Marlborough, Massachusetts, Staff Sergeant Kyle Robert McKee, 35, Painesville, Ohio, and Sergeant Jeremy Cain Sherman, 23, Watseka, Illinois, were among seven killed when the helicopter crashed.

The Czech Republic’s military confirmed one of the fatalities of the Black Hawk’s crash was Czech Sgt. Maj. Michaela Ticha. French military officials identified lieutenant-colonel Sébastien Botta as the French casualty.

One U.S. service member was also injured in the crash, but has not been identified.

A defense official said the UH-60 Black Hawk was on a reconnaissance mission and crashed near the island of Tiran, apparently because of a technical failure. An investigation is underway.

Vandekamp was an Army doctor assigned to a medical company under Task Force Sinai. He joined the Army after graduating from A.T. Still University Medical School in 2017. This was his first overseas assignment, arriving in Egypt this October.

Garza was a UH-60 Black Hawk pilot assigned to Task Force Sinai’s aviation company. He enlisted in the Army in 2005, commissioned in 2010 and arrived in Egypt in January. Garza’s previous overseas assignments include tours in Afghanistan and Iraq. His Iraq campaign medal includes an Arrowhead Device, meaning he participated in a helicopter assault, parachute jump or amphibious assault in the combat zone.

Ghabour was also a UH-60 Black Hawk pilot assigned to Task Force Sinai’s aviation company. He commissioned as a warrant officer in 2018. This was his first overseas assignment, arriving in Egypt in January.

McKee was a UH-60 helicopter repairer assigned to Task Force Sinai’s aviation company. He first enlisted in 2003 and arrived in Egypt this July. His previous overseas tours include time in Korea, Afghanistan and Iraq.

Sherman was a UH-60 crew chief assigned to Task Force Sinai’s aviation company. He enlisted in 2015 and arrived in Egypt this October. His previous overseas assignments include tours in Korea and Afghanistan.

In a statement on Thursday, acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller offered condolences.

“Yesterday we recognized the sacrifice of millions of American veterans who have defended our nation for generations, and today we are tragically reminded of the last full measure our uniformed warriors may pay for their service,” Miller said in a statement released by the Pentagon. “I extend the Department’s condolences to the families, friends and teammates of these service members.”

Since 1981, MFO has safeguarded the peace between Egypt and Israel.

Share