An Apache helicopter went down in eastern Afghanistan, Tuesday, killing 34-year-old Chief Warrant Officer Matthew Ruffner of Harrisburg and 27-year-old Chief Warrant Officer Jarett Yoder of the Reading area.
Few details are available but an investigation into the crash is underway. “In general when it comes to a helicopter crashes there are three causes,” says Staff Sgt. Matt Jones with the Pennsylvania National Guard. “It could either be enemy action, mechanical failure or pilot error and the investigation will determine which of those three causes – or combination of those causes – could have caused the incident.”
Officials can say that the soldiers were on a reconnaissance mission when the crash occurred, which is a typical task of the First of the 104th Attack Reconnaissance Battalion. More than 300 soldiers from that battalion deployed to Afghanistan last August for a year-long mission.
“The Pennsylvania Army National Guard has lost two of its own,” state Adjutant General Wesley Craig said in a statement. “Our hearts, thoughts and prayers are with the Ruffner and Yoder families… We celebrate the lives of these two Army aviators. They died helping others to be free.”
Yoder’s wife, Heather Garay-Yoder, also released a statement that says Jarett died doing what he loved and dreamed of doing.
The fatal crash occurred Tuesday morning. It is PA National Guard policy to wait 24-hours after family is notified to make these announcements public.