Five Fort Riley soldiers killed in Afghanistan helicopter crash

Five of the six soldiers killed in Monday’s helicopter crash in southern Afghanistan were from Fort Riley, authorities said Thursday.

All five soldiers were assigned to the 1st Infantry Division’s 1st Combat Aviation Brigade, Fort Riley said in a news release. The cause of the crash is under investigation.

One person aboard the Black Hawk UH-60 was injured and survived the crash in Now Bahar, Afghanistan.

Officials originally said the helicopter had experienced engine failure before the crash, but they later said it was unclear whether that was the case.

According to initial reports, the troops had mechanical problems and came under fire after the crash. It was unclear whether any of the casualties were the result of enemy fire.

The five Fort Riley soldiers have been identified as Chief Warrant Officer Randy L. Billings, 34, of Heavener, Okla.; Chief Warrant Officer Joshua B. Silverman, 35, of Scottsdale, Ariz.; Sgt. 1st Class Omar W. Forde, 28, of Marietta Ga.; Sgt. Peter C. Bohler, 29, of Willow Spring, N.C.; Spc. Terry K.D. Gordon, 22, of Shubuta, Miss.

Also killed was Staff Sgt. Jesse Williams of Elkhart, Ind., who was with the 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment, Vilseck, Germany.

“We offer our heartfelt condolences to the families and friends of these Big Red One soldiers,” Maj. Gen. Paul E. Funk II, 1st Division and Fort Riley commanding general, said. “We stand ready to support them, and I urge our community and nation, while remembering their sacrifices this holiday season, to do the same.”

U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., said in a statement, “As we pay tribute to their service and sacrifice, we are reminded that freedom is not free.”