RAF names servicemen killed in helicopter crash

FOUR American servicemen killed in a helicopter crash during a training exercise on the north Norfolk coast have been officially identified.

A Pave Hawk which took part in the same training exercise as the downed helicopter. Picture: Reuters

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

RAF Lakenheath, where US Airforce 48th Fighter Wing is based, said that captains Stover and Ruane were the pilots, while Tech Sgt Mathews and SSgt Ponce were acting as special mission aviators.

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Colonel Kyle Robinson, 48th Fighter Wing commander, said: “We continue to think of the loved ones who are experiencing such a tragic, sudden loss.

“The Liberty Wing feels as though it has lost members of its family, and we stand by to support one another and these airmen’s families during this difficult time.”

Tributes have been paid online to Capt Ruane, who leaves behind his wife Rachel and their young son Liam.

Mrs Ruane described her husband as “outgoing and dedicated to others” on a wedding website at the time of their marriage in July 2011.

She said: “Sean is a pilot in the Airforce and he flies Pave Hawk Rescue Helicopters.

“I am so proud of what he does and that he has chosen to serve our country.

“Sean is outgoing and loves to spend time with his friends and family. His dedication to others is one of his best attributes. There are very few men like him.

“I consider myself very blessed because Sean is my perfect match and we have so much to look forward to.”