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Pentagon Identifies Airmen Killed in C-130 Crash in Afghanistan

A C-130J Super Hercules. Airman 1st Class Alexandria Mosness/Air Force
A C-130J Super Hercules. Airman 1st Class Alexandria Mosness/Air Force

The U.S. Defense Department on Saturday identified the six U.S. airmen killed when the cargo aircraft they were riding in crashed shortly after takeoff in Afghanistan.

Five civilian contractors were also aboard the C-130J Super Hercules aircraft and died in the Oct. 2 accident at Jalalabad Airfield, and there were an unknown number of additional casualties on the ground, according to the Air Force.

The cause of the crash is still under investigation.

The airmen killed were: Capt. Jonathan J. Golden, 33, of Camarillo, California; Capt. Jordan B. Pierson, 28, of Abilene, Texas; Staff Sgt. Ryan D. Hammond, 26, of Moundsville, West Virginia; Senior Airman Quinn L. Johnson-Harris, 21, of Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Senior Airman Nathan C. Sartain, 29, of Pensacola, Florida; and Airman 1st Class Kcey E. Ruiz, 21, of McDonough, Georgia, according to a statement released by the Pentagon.

The six airmen were part of the 317th Airlift Group of the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing based at Bagram Airfield about 30 miles north of Kabul.

Golden, Pierson, Hammond and Johnson-Harris were assigned to the 39th Airlift Squadron, Dyess Air Force Base, Texas. Sartain and Ruiz were assigned to the 66th Security Forces Squadron, Hanscom Air Force Base, Massachusetts, according to the Pentagon.

Flags were lowered to half-staff at Dyess Air Force Base and Hanscom Air Force Base on Friday in tribute to the six airmen.The Taliban made claims of having shot down the aircraft but Air Force officials in Afghanistan and at the Pentagon said there were no signs that enemy action caused the crash.

The names of the contractors weren't released by the government.

Tajawar Khan, 58, who works as a caretaker near the base, said he witnessed a "huge explosion and massive fire" after hearing a "strange sound" from a plane, NBC reported. Khan added that the blaze "raged for several hours," the network reported.

At the White House, President Obama said in a statement, "Michelle and I extend our deepest condolences and sympathies to the families of the six U.S. airmen and five contractors who lost their lives in a military plane crash in Jalalabad."

"As we mark this terrible loss of life, we are reminded of the sacrifice brave Americans and our Afghan partners make each and every day in the name of freedom and security," Obama said.

--Richard Sisk contributed to this report.

--Brendan McGarry can be reached at brendan.mcgarry@military.com. Follow him on Twitter at @Brendan_McGarry.

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