|From Watertown Daily Times watertowndailytimes.com
Army names all four pilots killed in copter crash
By SARAH M. RIVETTE
TIMES STAFF WRITER
FRIDAY, JANUARY 30, 2009
The Army has identified the four soldiers who died in a helicopter crash in northern Iraq on Monday as 10th Mountain Division helicopter pilots.
All four pilots are being awarded the Bronze Star posthumously for acts of valor in combat.
The families of Chief Warrant Officer Philip E. Windorski Jr. and Chief Warrant Officer Matthew G. Kelley came forward to the news media earlier this week. The Army identified the other two pilots Thursday as Chief Warrant Officer Joshua M.
Tillery, 31, from Beaverton, Ore., and Chief Warrant Officer Benjamin H. Todd, 29, from Colville, Wash.
All four pilots were with the 6th Squadron, 6th Cavalry Regiment, 10th Combat Aviation Brigade. They flew OH-58D Kiowa Warriors, two-seat, armed reconnaissance helicopters. They deployed in October with the 10th Combat Aviation Brigade.
The crash happened at 2:15 a.m. Baghdad time Monday about 20 miles south of
Kirkuk, Iraq. An investigation into the cause is ongoing, but military officials have discounted the possibility of an enemy attack.
Chief Warrant Officer Tillery joined the Army in 1995 and became a helicopter pilot in 2003. He came to Fort Drum in 2004 to fly the Kiowa Warriors and deployed with the 10th Combat Aviation Brigade to Iraq for 11 months in 2005 and 2006. Among his awards are two Army Commendation Medals, six Army Achievement Medals, the Air Medal, the Air Assault Badge and the Army Aviator Badge. He is survived by his wife and three children.
Chief Warrant Officer Todd joined the Army in 2000 and became a pilot in 2005. He arrived at Fort Drum in 2007. This was his first deployment to Iraq and he had not been deployed to Afghanistan. His awards include the National Defense Service Medal, the Parachutist Badge and the Expert Infantry Badge. He is survived by his wife and two children.
Chief Warrant Officer Windorski, known as “Ski,” joined the Army in 1991 and became a Kiowa Warrior pilot in 1999. He deployed for an extended 16-month tour to Iraq from 2003 to 2004 and was assigned to Fort Drum in 2007. He also deployed to Bosnia for five months following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. His awards include two Air Medals, five Army Commendation Medals, two Presidential Unit Citations and the Senior Army Aviator Badge.
He is survived by his wife, Karin. J., and three children, Miranda, 14, Austin, 9 and
Emmalyn, 6, who live in the area.
“My husband was proud to be in the military, but he loved being an aviator,” Mrs. Windorski said Thursday. “But once he was out of that uniform, he was all about his family. He loved us and he was a devoted husband and my best friend.”
As a father, he spent time with his children and helped coach football and baseball. His wife said that he was famous for his home-brewed beer and it was his hope to open a microbrewery after retiring from the military.
His mother, Ruth Windorski, said that being in the Army “was all he ever he wanted to do, and he died doing what he truly loved.”
Chief Warrant Officer Kelley joined the Army in March 2003 and became a pilot in 2005. He came to Fort Drum in 2007 to fly the Kiowa Warrior. He had one previous deployment to Iraq from 2003 to 2004. His awards include the Global War on Terror Service Medal, the Army Service Medal and the Parachutist Badge. He is survived by his wife, DaLana and two children, Megan, 6, and Tyler, 4.
His father, retired Col. Stephen H. Kelley, said that his son was born to be a helicopter pilot and all he wanted to do was fly. He made the decision not to go to college, which would have made him a commissioned officer, and instead trained as a warrant officer so he could get more flight time, his father said.
“I think he really found his niche, and it was the right place for him to be,” Mr. Kelley said. “He was doing what he wanted to do, and when he died he died doing what he loved. He was protecting our freedoms and fulfilling a lifelong dream.”
The four pilots are the first 10th Mountain Division soldiers to die in Iraq since Sept. 2, when Pfc. Patrick W. May, 22, died of non-combat-related injuries.
The crash is the largest loss of American life in Iraq since a helicopter crash in September that killed seven soldiers. That crash was not caused by enemy activity.