Navy Identifies Two Pilots Killed in T-45 Crash

Lt. j.g. Wallace Burch of Horn Lake, Mississippi (left) and Lt. Patrick Ruth of Metairie, Louisiana. (Navy Photos)

A 31-year-old lieutenant and a 25-year-old lieutenant junior grade were killed when their T-45C Goshawk crashed in the Cherokee National Forest in Tennessee on Sunday.

On Tuesday evening, the Navy identified the pilots killed in the crash as Lt. Patrick Ruth of Metairie, Louisiana, and Lt. j.g. Wallace Burch of Horn Lake, Mississippi.

Both pilots were assigned to Training Squadron 7, known as the "Eagles," out of Naval Air Station Meridian, Mississippi.

According to Naval Air Training, Ruth, an instructor pilot, had been in the Navy for nine years and assigned to VT-7 since 2015. Burch, a student pilot, had been in the service for nearly three years, according to a release, and assigned to VT-7 since 2016.

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The aircraft went down Sunday evening in Tellico Plains, Tennessee, reportedly leaving a debris trail a half-mile long.

It remains unclear what caused the crash and whether the tragedy was linked to a rash of recent hypoxia-like episodes that caused the squadron to stop all training flights between April and August of this year.

An investigation by Chief of Naval Air Training is underway to determine the cause of the crash, CNATRA spokeswoman Lt. Elizabeth Feaster said in a statement.

-- Hope Hodge Seck can be reached at hope.seck@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @HopeSeck.