Tragic US airmen named

THE county's huge American community was in mourning today as tribute was paid to nine "warriors" tragically killed during a military exercise in Albania.

THE county's huge American community was in mourning today as tribute was paid to nine "warriors" tragically killed during a military exercise in Albania.

Officials at RAF Mildenhall yesterday confirmed the names of the airmen who were on board the MC-130H Combat Talon II plane when it crashed last Thursday.

It brought the full horror of the tragedy – deemed the worst incident in the air base's history – to life for many who were finally able to put names and faces to their fallen friends and colleagues.

Captain Todd Bracy, 34, Captain James Cronin, 32, Captain Gil Williamson, 31, Captain Surender Kothakota, 30 and 1st Lieutenant Ray Owens, 22, all died during a training mission in a remote mountainous region of Albania, about 35-miles east of Tirana.


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Their colleagues Chief Master Sergeant Lawrence Gray, 40, Technical Sergeant James Henry, 30, Technical Sergeant Glenn Lastes, 39 and Staff Sergeant Patrick Pentico, 22, also lost their lives in the crash.

Eight of the men were assigned to the 7th Special Operations Squadron, while Tech Sgt Lastes was assigned to Detachment 2 of the 25th Intelligence Operations Squadron.

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During a press briefing, Colonel Dennis Jones, 352nd Special Operations Group Commander, said the base was still trying to come to terms with the deaths of the nine men, and expressed his sympathies for the families, friends, and units involved. 

He said: "As we come to terms with the void these warriors leave behind, we will support their families and honour their memory by taking their place, standing in the line of battle as our nation asks of us and serving our country to the best of our abilities."

The families of the nine men have been invited to a special memorial service being held on Wednesday in their honour.

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