For some, the pain is very fresh. Among those attending was Montgomery County resident Jean Gibbs and two of her daughters, Allison and Megan.
Her husband and their father, Army Chief Warrant Officer David Gibbs, was one of two crew members killed May 5, 1999 when an Apache helicopter preparing for the Kosovo mission crashed in Albania.
CWO Gibbs, of Massillon, Ohio, was buried at Arlington National Cemetery on May 20, 1999 at a private, family ceremony.
David Gibbs wrote this letter to his mother on April 24, 1999. He was killed along with Kevin L. Reichert when their Apache helicopter went down in a nighttime training mission on May 5, 1999 outside Tirana, Albania.
Well this place is as bad as your imagination can go. I have never been in such harsh conditions. Looking forward to getting home. Missions start real soon so wish me luck. Tell everyone you know I am receiving care packages at this time. I.E. — cookies. Hoping for this to end soon. So how are you doing? Tell Chuck and Pam I said hi, take care.
In the accident, on May 5, Pentagon sources said a mechanical malfunction likely caused the deaths of two Army pilots: Chief Warrant Officer 3 David Gibbs and Chief Warrant Officer 2 Kevin Reichert.
Sources said the Apache they were flying suddenly did a 360-degree roll, indicating something went wrong with its stabilizing mechanism.
The exact nature of the malfunction has not been determined.
Monday January 17, 2000
Army Closes Probe of Apache Crash
WASHINGTON – After a months-long investigation, the Army has failed to determine what caused the fatal crash last spring of an Apache helicopter on training maneuvers in Albania, the Army said Monday.
Two soldiers killed in the accident were the only U.S. troop casualties in the NATO war against Yugoslavia.
The Apache investigation has been closed, and the cause will be listed as unknown “due to the degree of damage sustained during the crash sequence,” Army spokesman Col. Edwin Veiga said. In what he described as a highly unusual outcome, Veiga said investigators could find no definitive answer to what caused the crash.
On May 5, the Apache was leading a formation of five helicopters over mountainous terrain in northern Albania when its nose pitched up and the chopper rolled to the right. It fell 150 feet and exploded in flames on the ground, according to the Dayton Daily News, which obtained an Army report on the crash.
Chief Warrant Officer David Gibbs, 38, of Massillon, Ohio, and Chief Warrant Officer Kevin Reichert, 28, of Chetek, Wis., were killed.
Early indications pointed to mechanical failure, but Veiga said investigators were ultimately unable to determine a cause.
Apaches are the Army's best attack helicopters and were used extensively in the 1991 Gulf War against Iraq. Flown with a crew of two, they are armed with as many as 16 laser-guided Hellfire missiles designed to knock out tanks. In addition, they carry 70 mm rockets and a 30 mm cannon that can fire 625 rounds per minute.
More than half the Army's fleet of 743 Apaches has been grounded since last November to replace their tail rotor bearings or to replace transmission parts. The decision to ground the choppers was made when the Army determined that the tail rotor bearing was the cause of an Apache crash in January 1999.
Veiga said all Apaches deployed abroad have been repaired and returned to service. The full fleet is scheduled to be back in operation by April.
Michael Robert Patterson was born in Arlington and is the son of a former officer of the US Army. So it was no wonder that sooner or later his interests drew him to American history and especially to American military history. Many of his articles can be found on renowned portals like the New York Times, Washingtonpost or Wikipedia.
Reviewed by: Michael Howard