The U.S. Army has identified five American troops that were killed after a military helicopter crashed in Egypt during a routine mission, killing a total of seven uniformed peacekeepers from the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO), officials said.
The MFO said in a news release earlier this week eight members of the force were involved in the crash while on a mission in the vicinity of Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt. Only one peacekeeper survived the crash and was airlifted to a hospital where the service member remains in critical condition.
The U.S. peacekeepers have been identified as Captain Seth Vernon Vandekamp, 31, from Katy, Texas, Chief Warrant Officer 3 Dallas Gearld Garza, 34, from Fayetteville, North Carolina, Staff Sgt. Kyle Robert McKee, 35, from Painesville, Ohio, Chief Warrant Officer 2 Marwan Sameh Ghabour, 27, from Marlborough, Massachusetts, and Sgt. Jeremy Cain Sherman, 23, from Watseka, Illinois, The Military Times reported.
The army has not identified the service member that was badly wounded in the crash, though the international force that monitors the Israeli-Egyptian peace agreement has confirmed the service member is also a U.S. citizen.
In addition to the Americans, a French national and a Czech citizen also perished in the crash.
An earlier MFO statement said that eight peacekeepers were killed, including six Americans. The U.S. Defence Department said on Twitter the initial report of six service members was incorrect and that five U.S. service members had been killed and one hospitalized.
The initial operational reports of the loss of 6 US service members is incorrect, the DOD sadly lost 5 with 1 member hospitalized. The entire Department mourns this loss and extends our deepest condolences to our French and Czech partners in the Sinai Peninsula who lost teammates
— Department of Defense 🇺🇸 (@DeptofDefense) November 12, 2020
The force said the crash is under investigation to determine the cause, but at this point, there is no indication of an attack. Islamic terrorist groups that are affiliated with ISIS are known to be active in the region of Sinai.
The helicopter has been described as a UH-60 Black Hawk and in a preliminary investigation, officials said the crash was due to a technical malfunction.
“At this point, there is no information to indicate the crash was anything except an accident,” the MFO said. “We greatly appreciate the co-operation and support of Egypt and Israel in the recovery effort.”
The MFO was installed to monitor the demilitarization of the Sinai under the 1979 Egyptian-Israeli peace accord.
In recent years, Washington has been assessing to what extent the United States should participate in the MFO, especially as military coordination between Israel and Egypt has tightened to help beat back an Islamist-led insurgency in the Sinai.
According to its website, the MFO has 1,154 military personnel from the United States and 12 other countries, covering an area of more than 3,860 square miles in the Sinai. Some 452 of the personnel are American.
Reuters contributed to this report.