President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump took an unannounced trip to Delaware on Thursday to pay their respects to two Army pilots who were killed in Afghanistan.
ABC News reports 33-year-old Texas-native Chief Warrant Officer 2 David C. Knadle and 25-year-old Hawaiian-born Chief Warrant Officer 2 Kirk T. Fuchigami Jr. were killed when their Apache helicopter crashed in the Logar Province in eastern Afghanistan.
ABC News reports:
Both Knadle and Fuchigami had just arrived in Afghanistan, beginning their deployment in October 2019. Knadle joined the Army in April 2013, and following his initial training was assigned to the 1-227th in April 2015 as an Apache pilot.
Knadle’s awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, Air Medal, Army Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal with Campaign Star, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Combat Action Badge and Army Aviator Badge.
Fuchigami joined the Army in May 2017, and following his initial training, he was assigned to the 1-227th in October 2018 and served as an Apache pilot.
Fuchigami’s awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, Air Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal with Campaign Star, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Combat Action Badge and Army Aviator Badge.
There is no yet known reason for the crash and the Pentagon is continuing to investigate what may have caused it. They initially ruled out enemy gunfire.
In a statement, the Pentagon said the pilots died “when their helicopter crashed while providing security for troops on the ground.”
President Trump reportedly saluted the remains of the two soldiers at the Dover Air Force Base before meeting with the pilots’ families. Trump previously described these ceremonies as the “most unpleasant thing I do,” speaking to the difficulty and gravity of losing military service members and the impact that has on their families.
ABC News reports:
Trump previously attended ceremonies in February 2017 and in January 2019.
“I go to Dover when I can, but it’s — it’s so devastating for the parents that — you know,” Trump said at White House event last month, as he explained why he was pulling some troops out of Syria. “It’s so devastating when they bring that boy or young woman out of the back of those big, powerful planes in a coffin, and the parents are there.”
“I’ve seen people that I thought were really incredible — I didn’t even understood how they could take it so well — scream like I’ve never seen anything before,” Trump continued. “Sometimes they’ll run to the coffin. They’ll break through military barriers. They’ll run to the coffin and jump on top of the coffin. Crying mothers and wives. Crying desperately.”
According to the report, the deaths of Knadle and Fuchigami bring the number of combat deaths in Afghanistan this year to 19. This is one of the highest figures in the last five years.
“There are still 13,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan,” ABC News adds.