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US crew killed in Norfolk helicopter crash remembered

More than 2,000 US military personnel have paused to remember four US air crew members who died in a helicopter crash on the Norfolk coast earlier this month.

Weapons and equipment belonging to the US aircrew who died are displayed in a hangar before a memorial service Credit: REUTERS/Darren Staples

US Air Force Captains Christopher Stover and Sean Ruane and Technical Sergeant Dale Mathews were killed, along with their female colleague Staff Sergeant Afton Ponce when the helicopter they were flying in came down earlier this month.

A photograph of, and boots belonging to, Staff Sgt Afton Ponce Credit: REUTERS/Darren Staples

Body armour, rifles and dog tags belonging to each crew member were on display as their fellow servicemen and women gathered for a memorial service at RAF Lakenheath in Suffolk, where they were based.

Service personnel pray during the memorial service Credit: REUTERS/Darren Staples

Tributes were read to each of the air crew members of the 56th Rescue Squadron in the base's Hangar Seven.

More: US air crew killed in Norfolk helicopter crash

US air crew victim pictured after a training exercise

An RAF Lakenheath picture shows Staff Seargent Afton Ponce, who was one of the four air crew members who died in a military helicopter crash in Norfolk, stepping away from a HH-60G Pave Hawk in November last year.

Staff Sgt. Afton Ponce pictured walking from an HH-60G Pave Hawk after after a training exercise in November 2013. Credit: RAF Lakenheath

Seargent Ponce, who was a special mission aviator for the 56th Rescue Squadron, was killed alongside three other colleagues who were based at RAF Lakenheath when the HH-60G Pave Hawk they were flying on a training exercise came down on marshland in Cley, north Norfolk, on Tuesday evening.


US military helicopter crash 'not a criminal matter'

Norfolk Police says it has now handed the investigation into the fatal military helicopter crash to the US Air Force (USAF) after concluding the crash was not a criminal matter.

Floral tributes have been left outside the front gates of RAF Lakenheath. Credit: Press Association

The USAF, supported by the Ministry of Defence (MoD), will lead the continuing investigation into the circumstances of the crash.

Assistant Chief Constable Nick Dean, of Norfolk Police, said: "As has been the case throughout this investigation, our thoughts remain with the families and friends of the military personnel who lost their lives in this tragic incident.

"Even though our colleagues from the USAF, supported by the MoD, will now lead the ongoing inquiries, we will continue to support their work, engaging with local communities and providing reassurance and assistance where required."

Bodies removed from military helicopter crash site

The bodies of a US air crew killed when a helicopter came down on marshland in Norfolk have been removed from the crash site, police said.

Trucks arrive to begin the transportation of wreckage away from the crash site. Credit: Press Association

Captains Christopher S. Stover and Sean M. Ruane and Technical Sergeant Dale E. Mathews died when their Pave Hawk helicopter came down on a marsh near Cley-next-the-Sea on Tuesday. Their female crew mate Staff Sergeant Afton M. Ponce was also killed in the crash.

A private ambulance was seen removing the first two bodies from the site at about 2pm after a "complex" recovery operation.

It is understood the remaining bodies have also been recovered from the wreckage and will soon be taken to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital ahead of a post-mortem.

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No Mayday message from helicopter

No mayday message was sent by the US Air Force helicopter which crashed inNorfolk killing all four on board.

Colonel Kyle Robinson, commander of the 48th Fighter Wing based at RAF Lakenheath, Suffolk said there was no emergency message as he paid tribute to the dead servicemen.

Asked if emergency warnings were made in the moments before the HH-60G PaveHawk went down, Col Robinson said: "Not that I'm aware."

Attempts to move bodies underway at crash site

Police has said the attempt to recover bodies following a US military helicopter crash in Norfolk is underway.

The helicopter crash site where a US Airforce Pave Hawk helicopter came down on a marsh near Cley-next-the-Sea. Credit: Ben Kendall/PA Wire

It is expected to take much of the day with the bodies being removed one by one while the removal of the wreckage may go on into next week, a police spokesman said.

Low loading vehicles have arrived at the scene to begin the process of removing equipment, including the second helicopter.


US Air Force crew made the 'ultimate sacrifice'

A senior US Air Force officer today paid tribute to four American servicemen who made the "ultimate sacrifice" when they were killed in a helicopter crash during a training exercise on the north Norfolk coast.

RAF Lakenheath where the US military helicopter that crashed in Norfolk were based. Credit: Emma Sword/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Captains Christopher S. Stover and Sean M. Ruane, Technical Sergeant Dale E. Mathews and Staff Sergeant Afton M. Ponce died when their Pave Hawk helicopter came down on a marsh near Cley-next-the-Sea on Tuesday night.1

Colonel Kyle Robinson, 48th Fighter Wing commander, told reporters at RAF Lakenheath, where the wing is based: "I am deeply saddened by the loss of these great airmen. They have made the ultimate sacrifice while training to save the lives of others."

He told their families: "As a husband and father myself, I cannot imagine how heartbroken you must feel, now missing a piece of your family. I speak for the entire wing when I say that we are thinking of you, we are praying for you, and we are here for you."

He also thanked the British authorities for their help in dealing with the crash.

Norfolk investigation set to continue for 'many days'

Officers are painstakingly searching for clues as to why a HH-60G Pave Hawk out on a military training exercise in Cley, north Norfolk, crashed into marshes, killing all four air crew members on board.

The search for clues is set to continue for "many days" as police prioritise the recovery of the bodies of the crew. ITV News' Nina Nannar reports from Cley on how the investigation is progressing.

Two of the US Air Force members killed in crash

The four service members killed in a US Air Force helicopter crash in Cley, north Norfolk, yesterday have been named.

They include Capt. Sean M. Ruane and Tech. Sgt. Dale E. Mathews.

Capt. Sean M. Ruane was among the four service members killed in US military helicopter crash in Norfolk. Credit: RAF Lakenheath
Tech. Sgt. Dale E. Mathews was also killed in the helicopter crash in Cley, north Norfolk. Credit: RAF Lakenheath

Aircrash victims were pilots and special mission aviators

An HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter carries a four-person aircrew - a pilot, co-pilot, and two special mission aviators who are qualified as both gunners and flight engineers, RAF Lakenheath said in a statement.

On the mission in Norfolk last night, Capt. Stover and Capt. Ruane were the pilots, and Tech. Sgt. Mathews and SSgt. Ponce were the special mission aviators.

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