'Night Stalkers' Warrant Officer Killed in Iraq Crash Identified

Conducting pre-flight checks, then-Chief Warrant Officer 2 Taylor Galvin, a pilot with Company C, 2nd General Support Aviation Battalion, 1st Aviation Regiment, observes the hydraulic deck of a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter, Jan. 15, 2014, at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan. Galvin was killed when his MH-60 Black Hawk crashed in Iraq Aug. 20 (Andrew Cochran/U.S. Army)
Military.com | By Array and Array

The Defense Department has identified the U.S. soldier killed in a helicopter crash Sunday night along the Iraq-Syria border.

Chief Warrant Officer 3 Taylor J. Galvin died Aug. 20 in Baghdad, Iraq, "as a result of injuries sustained when his helicopter crashed in Sinjar, Nineveh Province, Iraq," officials said in a release. Galvin, a Spokane, Washington native, was 34.

Galvin was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (SOAR), at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. The airborne special operations unit is known as the Night Stalkers, tasked with moving and inserting elite commandos such as the Army's Delta Force and the Navy SEALs for night operations.

In a statement, U.S. Special Operations Command said that Galvin, the married father of two, had deployed nine times in his career-- twice in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, three times in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, and four times in support of Operation Inherent Resolve in Iraq and Syria.

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He joined the Army as a CH-47 aircraft mechanic in 2003 and in 2007 was accepted to warrant officer candidate school and graduated flight school in 2008 at Fort Rucker, Alabama.

Galvin was assigned to Charlie Company, 2-1 General Support Aviation Battalion, Fort Riley, Kansas, where he served as a UH-60 instructor pilot, deploying twice to Iraq and once to Afghanistan.

After a successful assessment in 2015, he was assigned to Delta Company, 1st Battalion, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne), Fort Campbell, Kentucky, where he served as an MH-60M Fully Mission Qualified Pilot, SOCOM said.

His military education included the Warrant Officer Candidate School; Aviation Warrant Officer Basic Course; Aviation Warrant Officer Advanced Course; the Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape Course; UH-60 Aviator Qualification Course; UH-60 Instructors Pilot Course; and the MH-60M Qualification Course.

Galvin's awards and decorations included one Air Medal with combat "C" device; the Air Medal with three oak leaf clusters; the Army Commendation Medal with two oak leaf clusters; the Joint Service Air Medal with one oak leaf cluster; and the Army Achievement Medal with two oak leaf clusters.

He also received the Afghanistan Campaign Medal; the Iraq Campaign Medal; the Global War On Terrorism Expeditionary Medal; the Global War On Terrorism Service Medal; the Combat Action Badge and the Senior Army Aviator Badge.

In 2011, the Night Stalkers provided insertion for the raid on Osama bin Laden's compound. U.S. special forces, along with the 160th, attempted to rescue American journalist James Foley in 2014. Foley was beheaded by Islamic State militants weeks after the rescue attempt.

The unit flies MH-60M Black Hawks, MH-47 Chinooks, among other helicopters.

DoD officials said the incident in Sinjar remains under investigation.

Pentagon spokesman Army Col. Rob Manning on Monday said several others were injured in the Sunday night crash of an MH-60 Black Hawk. The service members were returning from an anti-ISIS mission as part of Operation Inherent Resolve.

The aircraft had earlier joined "in a partnered counter-terror mission against ISIS," he said.

At least three service members were medically evacuated for further treatment, Manning said. Recovery operations were underway at the crash site to retrieve the helicopter.

At the Pentagon Monday, Manning did not disclose the nature of the counter-terror mission that Galvin and others aboard the MH-60 had conducted or its location.

However, U.S. troops in Iraq and Syria have focused in recent months on backing up local forces in the effort to defeat remnants of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria who still operate in ungoverned spaces along the Iraq-Syria border and in the Middle Euphrates River Valley.

The Sinjar area in northwestern Iraq near the border with Turkey was one of the first areas to fall to ISIS in the terror group's August 2014 invasion that pressed to the gates of Baghdad as the Iraqi Security Forces crumbled, leaving behind weapons and equipment.

ISIS carried out massacres against the male population of the Yazidi sect in the area and enslaved women, according to U.S. and United Nations reports.

Thousands of Yazidis fled to the Kurdish autonomous region while others remained in tent cities. The area is still subject to periodic Turkish airstrikes against the PKK, or Kurdish Workers Party, which is considered a terrorist organization by the U.S. and Turkey.

"We are conducting recovery operations and are in close communication and coordination with our Iraqi partners," U.S. Central Command said in a release following the crash. "There are no indications the crash was caused by hostile fire."

In March, a U.S. HH-60 Pave Hawk crashed in western Iraq, killing all seven combat search and rescue Air Force members on board. CENTCOM officials at the time also said the crash did not appear to be the result of enemy activity. The incident remains under investigation.

-- Oriana Pawlyk can be reached at oriana.pawlyk@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @oriana0214.

-- Richard Sisk can be reached at Richard.Sisk@Military.com.