Metro-East News

Airman who had been assigned to Scott Air Force Base killed in Afghanistan

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Gregory Kuhse  died in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan Sunday.
U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Gregory Kuhse died in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan Sunday. Provided photo

An airman from western Michigan who was assigned to Scott Air Force Base is one of two U.S. military personnel who were killed Sunday in a helicopter crash in Kabul, Afghanistan.

The Defense Department said Tuesday that 38-year-old Master Sgt. Gregory Kuhse of Kalamazoo died, along with 45-year-old Major Phyllis Pelky, of Rio Rancho, New Mexico. They were supporting Operation Freedom's Sentinel and riding in a British Puma Mk 2 when it went down.

Three others, including two members of Britain's Royal Air Force and a soldier from France, also were killed. Five more people aboard the helicopter were injured.

Kuhse was assigned to the 3rd Manpower Requirements Squadron at Scott Air Force Base. Pelky was assigned to the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Kuhse had been serving as a manpower adviser to the Afghan Air Force in a deployed location, according to Karen Pettit, a Scott spokeswoman. Other information about Kuhse’s deployment was not immediately available.

The cause of Sunday's helicopter crash has not been officially determined, but an Afghan security guard who reportedly witnessed the incident told The Associated Press that, as the helicopter was landing, it collided with a monitoring balloon.

The last airman assigned to Scott who died overseas was Air Force Capt. Brandon Cyr, 28, of Virginia, who was killed April 27, 2013, in the crash of an MC-12 surveillance aircraft near Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan.

A spokeswoman for U.S. forces in Afghanistan confirmed that a Persistent Threat Reduction System escaped from its mooring on Sunday and was recovered after it landed outside the perimeter of the base. The spokeswoman did not say whether the helicopter ran into it, according to the Air Force Times.

Sunday’s crash happened a little more than a week after six U.S. airmen were killed on Oct. 2 when their C-130J crashed at Jalalabad Airfield shortly after takeoff.

The last airman assigned to Scott who died overseas was Air Force Capt. Brandon Cyr, 28, who was killed April 27, 2013, in the crash of an MC-12 surveillance aircraft near Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan.

Cyr, of Woodbridge, Va., had been assigned to the 906th Air Refueling Squadron at Scott, but had volunteered to leave his unit so he could fly the MC-12 in support of American troops and its allies in Afghanistan. Also killed in that crash were three other Air Force airmen.

A family friend of Kuhse’s set up a GoFundMe page to raise money for his family. As of Tuesday, $930 had been raised.

The cause of the crash is under investigation.

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