Valdosta Daily Times

January 10, 2014

Former Moody airmen lost in crash

Stuart Taylor
The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA — The two Air Force pilots who died on Tuesday when their Pave Hawk — a modified version of the Black Hawk helicopter — crashed on the east coast of Britain were both formerly stationed at Moody Air Force Base with the 41st Rescue Squadron.

Capt. Sean M. Ruane was stationed at Moody from October 2007 through August 2011 and Capt. Christopher S. Stover was stationed at Moody from July 2010 through August 2013.

After leaving Moody, both joined the 48th Fighter Wing at Royal Air Force Station Lakenheath, located in Suffolk, England, the largest U.S. Air Force operated base in England.

Ruane and Stover, along with Tech. Sgt. Dale E. Mathews and Staff Sgt. Afton M. Ponce, were in the middle of a low-level training mission on Tuesday when they went down into the Norfolk Wildlife Trust Cley Marshes Nature Reserve, according to an Associated Press story. Mathews and Ponce also died in the crash.

Pave Hawk helicopters often fly low and fast at altitudes of hundreds of feet. Though mostly used for combat search-and-rescue, they have also been used in the wake of natural disasters, such as Hurricane Katrina in 2005 or the earthquake and tsunami Japan suffered in 2011.

Investigators have yet to determine the cause of the crash.

In a statement released by RAF Lakenheath, 48th Fighter Wing Cmdr. Kyle Robinson mourns the loss of the four airmen.

“We continue to think of the loved ones who are experiencing such a tragic, sudden loss,” said Robinson. “The Liberty Wing feels as though it has lost members of its family and we stand by to support these airman’s families during this difficult time.”