BOISE -- Two Idaho Army National Guard soldiers died when their Apache helicopter crashed about two miles south of Gowen Field and the Boise Airport Thursday night, officials said.
National Guard officials identified the men as 50-year-old Stien P. Gearhart of Meridian and 43-year-old Jon L. Hartway of Kuna.
Both men were ranked Chief Warrant Officer 4, and were assigned to the 1-183rd Attack Reconnaissance Battalion at Gowen Field.
The crash happened at about 7 p.m. near the intersection of Pleasant Valley Road and Hollilynn Drive.
Idaho National Guard spokesman Col. Tim Marsano said the crew members on board the helicopter were on a local nighttime training mission.
"The men and women of the Idaho National Guard are united in grief at the loss of two of our brothers in arms, who gave their lives while training to defend our nation," said Idaho National Guard Commander, Major General Gary Sayler in a statement. "Today, our thoughts and prayers are with their families."
The Ada County Coroner's Office will be performing the autopsies on the two crash victims. Ada County Coroner Erwin Sonnenberg confirmed both victims were male. The soldiers' families have been notified.
The helicopter that crashed is one of 16 Apaches based at Gowen Field. Marsano said it sent an automated beacon after it crashed.
The cause of the crash is not yet known and an investigation is underway.
Several political figures, including Idaho's governor, expressed their condolences to the pilots' families Friday. Their statements are below.
Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter:
"The First Lady and I mourn the loss of these Idaho Army National Guard pilots," Otter said in a statement. "Their loved ones and brothers and sisters in arms are in our thoughts and prayers. This tragedy reminds us of the enormous sacrifice and great risk involved in military service – whether here at home preparing to go into harm's way or on the battle lines of freedom. I ask all Idahoans to join me in honoring these courageous citizen soldiers along with all those who have gone before them in defense of the liberties we hold so dear."
Sen. Jim Risch:
"Vicki and I send our thoughts and prayers to the families of those lost. Because of my special relationship with the Idaho National Guard this hits all the harder. This once again reminds us of the dangers our dedicated servicemen and women face, at home and abroad, as they work hard to keep America safe."
Congressman Raul Labrador:
"Rebecca and I send our thoughts and prayers to the families of the two Idaho National Guard pilots who died in the line of duty. Their sacrifice is a sober reminder of the price of freedom. We also are praying for the entire Idaho Guard community and ask that every Idahoan take special note of Veterans Day on Tuesday."
Sen. Mike Crapo
"I am deeply saddened to learn of the passing of our Idaho National Guardsmen. My thoughts and prayers are with their families, friends and the entire Idaho National Guard community during this difficult time. This tragic event serves as a poignant reminder of the dedicated service and ongoing sacrifices our military men and women make to safeguard our freedoms."
Congressman Mike Simpson
"Kathy and I send our thoughts and prayers to the families of two pilots who lost their lives while they were training to defend our nation. Please keep these families and the men and women of the Idaho National Guard in your thoughts today."