GRAND RAPIDS (WWJ/AP) - A West Michigan family says their son was among those killed when a Black Hawk helicopter crashed in Kandahar, Afghanistan on Thursday.
Eleven people, including seven U.S. troops, died in the crash — which the Taliban is claiming responsibility for.
While the US Department of Defense has yet to confirm identities of those who died in the crash, family members say 27-year old David Warsen was among those who perished. His family said the Navy SEAL was killed while on a Special Operations mission in rugged terrain deep in enemy territory.
Warsen, better known as “Davey” to those closest to him, graduated from East Kentwood High School near Grand Rapids, and was engaged to be married this December.
Kent County Commissioner Harold Voorhees, Warsen’s great-uncle, told MLive.com that Warsen was a very upbeat person who was “just so proud of being Navy SEAL. He worked so hard at it.”
According to reports, the troops were on a mission in the Shah Wali Kot district, a rural area north of Kandahar city where insurgents move freely and regularly launch attacks, on Thursday morning when the helicopter went down. Three Afghan troops and one Afghan civilian interpreter were also on board.
Taliban insurgents claimed responsibility for the crash, though government officials would not confirm the claim.
The Associated Press reported that the Black Hawk was operating in support of an ongoing assault on the ground but initial indications were that it was not shot down, according to U.S. officials who spoke anonymously because the investigation was continuing.
Kandahar is a traditional Taliban stronghold and the spiritual birthplace of the hardline Islamist movement, which ruled Afghanistan before being ousted in 2001 by the U.S.-led alliance for sheltering al-Qaida’s leaders.
With Thursday’s crash, at least 26 Americans have been killed so far this month and at least 219 so far this year.
At least 1,961 U.S. service personnel have been killed in Afghanistan over the course of the 11-year war.
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