United States Army Aircrew
Operation Iraqi Freedom, 29 January 2009
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)
IMMEDIATE RELEASE No. 066-09
DoD Identifies Army Casualties
The Department of Defense announced today the death of four soldiers who were supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. They died from wounds suffered when two OH-58D Kiowa Warrior helicopters crashed January 26, 2009, in Kirkuk, Iraq. They were assigned to the 6th Squadron, 6th Cavalry Regiment, 10th Combat Aviation Brigade, 10th Mountain Division, Fort Drum, New York.
Chief Warrant Officer Philip
E. Windorski, Jr., 35, of Bovey, Minnesota
The incident is under investigation.
For further information contact the Fort Drum
public affairs office at (315) 772-8286.
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, Oregon, and Chief Warrant Officer Benjamin H. Todd, 29, from Colville, Washington.
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 Colonel 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.
Family members of two 10th Mountain Division helicopter pilots who died in a helicopter crash Monday are telling their sons' stories, while the Army has yet to confirm their identities.
The families of Chief Warrant Officer Matthew G. Kelley, Osborn, Missouri, and Philip Windorski, Jr., Grand Rapids, Minnwsota, have confirmed that their sons were involved in the helicopter crashes in Kirkuk, Iraq.
The incident was the largest loss of American life in four months, when there was another helicopter crash in southern Basra that killed seven soldiers on Sept. 18. The cause of the crash has not been determined, but the military does not believe it was caused by an enemy attack.
Chief Warrant Officer Kelley, 30, is survived by his wife, DaLana, daughter, Megan, 6, and son, Tyler, 4. His parents, retired Colonel Stephen H. and Catherine Kelley, and his brother, Christopher, still live in Missouri. The immediate family lives in Carthage, but could not be reached for comment. Christopher is in the Army Reserve and just returned from a deployment to Iraq in June.
"I've always been one of those people where these kinds of things like getting killed in a war is a really tragic and unfortunate thing that happens to other people," Mr. Kelley said. "I never worried that I was going to get killed or get hurt during Vietnam, and Matthew made it through his first tour and Christopher did too. I just didn't think it could happen."
Mr. Kelley said that Monday was like any other day; he went to his local gym in the morning. He was told at the front desk that there was an urgent phone call for him it was his wife, whom he said he could not clearly understand.
"I was about halfway home when I realized what she had said," Mr. Kelley said. "It was confirmed when my other son called. When I got home, standing in my living room were the two military guys to give us the official notification."
This was his son's second tour; the first was as a combat infantryman in the 82nd Airborne during the early part of the Iraq war. After that tour, Chief Warrant Officer Kelley returned to the States and had a chance to become a helicopter pilot, something he had wanted since childhood.
"I think he really found his niche and it was the right place for him to be," his father 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."
That's a trait both pilots shared a love of flying and a love of their profession.
Ruth Windroski, mother of Mr. Windorski, 36, said her son went straight into the Army after graduating from high school in 1991.
"He was a top-notch pilot. Ever since he could walk, that's what he wanted to be," she said. "I just talked to him a couple of days before it happened, over the webcam on the computer. He was on his way out the door, to go back to work. That song, 'American Soldier,' that was him."
Mr. Windorski is survived by his wife, Karen, and two children, who live in the area. Karen Windorski declined to comment when called, but his mother said he was a devoted family man who spent as much time with his children as possible.
"He was always at all of the games that he could make," she said. "He loved playing football in school and his kids were into sports and he made time to coach their sports football and softball."
She said that Monday was something straight out of a movie "when you see two Army guys come up to your door; that's just how it was."
Mrs. Windorski said that funeral arrangements are under way and that there will be two ceremonies: one in Grand Rapids and the other at Fort Drum.
Two other U.S. soldiers also died in the helicopter
crashes Monday. Their identities have not yet been released by the Army.
BURIED AT: SECTION 60 SITE 9164
Posted: 30 March 2010 Updared: 20 June 2011
Photos By Eileen Horan, June 2011