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1 of 5 Americans killed in helicopter crash involving peacekeeping force in Egypt was from Fayetteville

Posted November 14, 2020 10:00 a.m. EST
Updated November 14, 2020 2:45 p.m. EST

8 killed, including 6 Americans, in helicopter crash involving peacekeeping force in Egypt

— The US Army has identified five Americans killed in a helicopter crash Thursday while serving as part of a peacekeeping force in Egypt.

The Americans, who were among seven members of the force killed in the southern Sinai Peninsula, were identified as: Capt. Seth Vernon Vandekamp, 31 of Katy, Texas; Chief Warrant Officer 3 Dallas Gearld Garza, 34, of Fayetteville, North Carolina; Chief Warrant Officer 2 Marwan Sameh Ghabour, 27, of Marlborough, Massachusetts; Staff Sgt. Kyle Robert McKee, 35, of Painesville, Ohio; and Sgt. Jeremy Cain Sherman, 23, of Watseka, Illinois.

Garza was a pilot assigned to Aviation Company, Task Force Sinai. He enlisted in the Army in 2005 and was commissioned in 2010, according to a separate statement released by the Army.

Col. David S. Sentell, commander of the task force, said in the statement that the unit is mourning the tragic loss of life with profound sadness.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the families, friends and loved ones of our fallen during this most difficult time,” he said. “They should know that their nation will continue to honor their sacrifice.”

Garza went to Egypt in January and previously served in Afghanistan and Iraq, it said. His awards and decorations include the Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters, Army Commendation Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters, Army Achievement Medal with Silver Oak Leaf Cluster, and the Joint Meritorious Service Award. Others include an Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal w/Arrowhead Device, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Korea Defense Service Medal, Non-Commissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon, NATO Medal, the Senior Army Aviator Badge, the Army Aviator Badge, and the Parachutist Badge.

The helicopter crash occurred Thursday morning in the vicinity of Sharm el-Sheikh. It was "caused by technical issues" and involved a Black Hawk helicopter that was a supplying mission of the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO), the Czech Defense Ministry said.

Also killed in the crash were one French and one Czech national, whom Czech authorities identified as Sgt. Michaela Ticha, the first Czech female solider killed in a foreign mission since the Velvet Revolution in 1989. One American peacekeeper survived the crash and was evacuated by Israel Defense Forces to an Israeli hospital for medical treatment, the IDF said in a statement.

The MFO oversees the peace agreement reached between Egypt and Israel as part of the Camp David Accords of 1978.

The force consists of some 1,150 personnel from 13 countries, including about 450 Americans.

Security in the area has deteriorated in recent years amid a campaign of violence being carried out by a local ISIS affiliate that has targeted civilians and government forces.

In 2016, after a series of militant attacks, the US moved a large number of forces further south to where it was deemed safer and increased the use of remote technology like cameras to carry out the mission.


This story includes some reporting from the Fayetteville Observer.

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