Four Dyess Air Force Base Airmen assigned to the 317th Airlift Group died Friday in Afghanistan when their C-130J crashed during initial takeoff from Jalalabad Airfield. Dyess officials are not releasing the names of the Airmen until 24 hours after the families have been notified.
Col. Stephen Hodge, Commander of the Airlift Group, is asking the Abilene community to continue offering thoughts and prayers for service members. During a press conference on Friday he described the atmosphere on base as "overwhelming and humbling."
“We have airmen that are hurting and we have support that’s there,” Hodge said. “We are not alone. The support network is nothing but the finest that I’ve seen.”
The Airmen were among 11 people killed in the crash that officials say was not caused by of enemy fire. Officials in the Central Command Area of Responsibility are investigating the crash. Two servicemen from the Hanscom Air Force Base in Massachusetts were also killed along with five civilians. There were additional fatalities on the ground.
Col. Michael Bob Starr,7th Bomb Wing Commander, said the sadness and shock of this tragedy can be felt across the entire Dyess community.
“One of the wonderful things about Dyess Air Force Base is we really are a family and that’s a relationship that exists not only on the base between the various units but also between the base and Abilene and the Big Country,” Starr said. “Today is a very sad day for the Dyess Family. Right now we are 100 percent focused on caring for and supporting those parts of our family that are hurting the most.”
Chaplains along with members of the Airman and Family Readiness Center are providing support to family members and Dyess service members.