Monday, August 8, 2011
Kabul, Afghanistan (CNN) -- Coalition forces embroiled in a firefight with insurgents in eastern Afghanistan on Saturday had called for assistance, but instead had to race to the crash scene of a downed NATO helicopter carrying their reinforcements, officials said Monday.
Everyone inside the CH-47 Chinook was killed, marking the worst single-day loss of American life since the beginning of the Afghan war, NATO reported.
The inbound helicopter -- loaded with 30 U.S. service members, a civilian interpreter and seven Afghan troops -- crashed after being "reportedly fired on by an insurgent rocket-propelled grenade," the statement said.
Twenty-five of those on board were U.S. special operations forces, including 22 Navy SEALs. Five air crew members were also on board.
Deadliest U.S. day in Afghanistan 'Complex' landscape where troops died 'The unprecedented Afghanistan attack'
U.S. Armed Forces
Two military transport aircraft carrying the remains of the 38 U.S. and Afghan personnel have departed Bagram, Afghanistan, and are headed to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, Pentagon spokesman Col. David Lapan said Monday. The flights are expected to arrive on Tuesday.
"In life they were comrades in arms, and in death they are bound forever in this vital cause. We cherish this selfless sacrifice," Gen. John R. Allen, International Security Assistance Force commander, said in a statement. He pledged to continue the fight in Afghanistan.
"Today, as we pay our respects to these magnificent troops, we recommit ourselves for the future, and for the freedom, peace and stability of Afghanistan," he said.
Because the catastrophic nature of the crash made the remains difficult to identify, all 38 sets are being taken to the United States. The Afghan remains will be returned to their families once identifications can be made.
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Posted by Steve Douglass at 7:21 PM