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Tragic Loss of Apache Junction Native in U.S. Army Helicopter Crash


The community of Apache Junction, Arizona, and the nation at large are mourning the loss of five U.S. Army soldiers in a helicopter crash over the Mediterranean Sea. Among the fallen is Sgt. Andrew P. Southard, a native of Apache Junction, whose life and service were honored in a heartfelt statement by Mayor Chip Wilson.

The U.S. Army Special Operations helicopter was conducting a routine training exercise focused on mid-flight refueling when an unexpected in-flight emergency led to the tragic accident on Friday. According to the Army's public affairs office, there is currently no evidence to suggest the crash was caused by an attack. The Army's Combat Readiness Center has initiated a thorough investigation to determine the cause of the incident.

Sgt. Southard, aged 27, was a valued member of the Apache Junction community, having attended Cactus Canyon Junior High and Apache Junction High School. His untimely passing is a poignant reminder of the sacrifices made by those in uniform.

In addition to Sgt. Southard, the soldiers who lost their lives in this tragic event are:

  • Chief Warrant Officer 3 Stephen R. Dwyer, 38, from Clarksville, Tennessee.
  • Chief Warrant Officer 2 Shane M. Barnes, 34, from Sacramento, California.
  • Staff Sgt. Tanner W. Grone, 26, from Gorham, New Hampshire.
  • Sgt. Cade M. Wolfe, 24, from Mankato, Minnesota.

Each of these soldiers made the ultimate sacrifice in service to their country, leaving behind grieving families, friends, and a nation grateful for their service.

Mayor Wilson, representing the city of Apache Junction, expressed deep condolences to the Southard family. "On behalf of our city council, the city of Apache Junction sends its condolences to the family of Sgt. Andrew Southard," he said. "Our thoughts are with the Southard family at this difficult time."

As the community of Apache Junction, and indeed the whole country, mourns the loss of these brave soldiers, their legacy and dedication to their nation will not be forgotten. Their commitment to serving and protecting their country stands as a testament to their bravery and the values they upheld.

As the investigation into the crash continues, the thoughts and prayers of a nation are with the families and loved ones of these fallen heroes. Their service and sacrifice will forever be remembered and honored.
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Friday, 14 June 2024

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