*This article was originally created for a course in writing for various forms of media and was published on 30 Nov., 2015.
The roughly 29,000 US military personnel stationed in South Korea lost two of their own earlier this week in a helicopter crash on a rural road in Wonju. An Apache AH-64 went down around 6:30 local time on the evening of Monday, Nov. 23; while both pilots were killed, Korean authorities are reporting that there were no casualties on the ground.
“Our first priority is to provide [the crew’s] families with the support they need during this difficult time.” Said Lt. Colonel Mark Gillespie, who is the deputy commander of the 2nd Combat Aviation Brigade. The 2nd Combat Aviation Brigade is a component of the 2nd Infantry Division, which falls under the command of 8th United States Army.
The identities of the soldiers are being withheld pending identification of the crew and notification of their families. However, the Army has confirmed that the pilots were from the 2nd Combat Aviation Brigade, which is stationed at Camp Humphreys. The Army’s official press release regarding the incident also stated that the helicopter and its two-person crew were on a “routine training exercise” and that the Apache AH-64 crashed roughly 50 miles east of Camp Humphreys.
The army has not yet determined what caused the crash, Korea’s Yonhap News Agency claims that unidentified officials believe that the helicopter collided with power lines or a nearby steel tower. These claims have not been confirmed or substantiated as of yet,
This incident comes as a hard blow to the US’s 8th Army, which already bares the responsibility of deterring aggression from the Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea, maintaining stability in northeast Asia, and, if necessary, defending the Republic of Korea. Because the Korean War was ended with an armistice rather than a peace treaty, the United States and South Korea are still at war with North Korea.
The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea recently threatened their southern neighbor with “merciless retaliation” following South Korean live artillery drills near disputed islands in the Yellow Sea. The drills were held on Nov. 23, which marks the five year anniversary of North Korea’s lethal bombardment of Yeonpyeong. Division spokespersons could not be reached to confirm or deny that the Apache AH-64’s training exercise was connected to the drills or the anniversary with which they coincided.