UPDATE: 6 American Soldiers identified in C-130 Afghanistan Crash
An Air Force C-130J assigned to the 774th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron, part of the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing, crashed at approximately 12:19 am at Jalalabad Airfield, a Pentagon statement said.
It identified a crew of six American service members and five civilian passengers, whom defense officials said were contractors.
The identities of our fallen heroes have been listed as: Capt. Jonathan J. Golden, 33 Capt. Jordan B. Pierson, 28 Staff Sgt. Ryan D. Hammond, 26 Senior Airman Quinn L. Johnson-Harris, 21 All four individuals were assigned to the 39th Airlift Squadron at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas.
Senior Airman Nathan C. Sartain, 29 Airman 1st Class Kcey E. Ruiz, 21 Both were assigned to the 66th Security Forces Squadron at Hanscom Air Force Base, Massachusetts.
A Defense Department official told ABC News that four of the five contractors were also Americans.
ABC News states an additional 3 Afghan ground-crew members were also killed(a total of 14 souls).
Coalition spokesperson U.S. Army Col. Brian Tribus said: "We are gathering more information and will release as appropriate".
Officials have said that everyone on board the aircraft at the time of the crash has perished. It is not yet known what caused the accident at Jalalabad Airport near the Afghan-Pakistani border, but the 455th Air Wing has called the crash an "accident" that occured during takeoff. The Taliban has tried claiming responsibility for the crash. But Pentagon sources ruled out the possibility that the C-130 was shot down. Officials said there have been no reports of enemy fire at the time of the crash.
"The aircraft crash site is contained wholly within the confines of the airfield," said Major Tony Wickman, a spokesman for the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing in Afghanistan.
The Defense Department official indicated that investigators are looking at a possible engine fire or the possible clipping of a security barrier as the C-130 took off.
I personally don't doubt the possibility that this was purely a tragic accident, and it is unfortunately the most likely scenario. But upon first reading various accounts of this incident, it reminded me of insurgent tactics used in Iraq. While I was stationed there, a C-130 was almost taken down while it was trying to take-off. Insurgents would bury IRAM's (improvised rocket accelerated munitions) at the end or edges of the runway, and fire them upwards as an aircraft was departing.
The city is close to the eastern border with Pakistan, an area prone to Taliban attacks. The C-130 Hercules, a four-engine turboprop plane, has been used by the American military since the 1950s and has been a staple for Afghanistan and Iraq operations, carrying both passengers and cargo.