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Published December 14, 2011, 05:41 PM

ND Native Among 4 Soldiers Killed in Washington Chopper Crash

RAINIER, WA - Among four soldiers killed when two helicopters crashed at a Washington state base Monday was a North Dakota native. The Army said Wednesday investigators are still trying to find the cause of the collision.

By: Associated Press, WDAZ

RAINIER, WA - Among four soldiers killed when two helicopters crashed at a Washington state base Monday was a North Dakota native.

The Army said Wednesday investigators are still trying to find the cause of the collision.

25-year-old Capt. Anne M. Montgomery had served on active duty since August 2008. She arrived at Joint Base Lewis-McChord a year ago and was a 2008 graduate of the United States Military Academy.

The Watford City-area native had not yet been deployed overseas.

In a statement released Wednesday, North Dakota Senator John Hoeven said Montgomery's death was a tragedy.

“Mikey and I are deeply saddened by Anne’s death, and the deaths of her fellow soldiers in Monday’s helicopter crash. Her loss is magnified by her young age and the promise her life held. We are grateful for her selfless service, her leadership and her love for America. We extend our condolences to Anne’s family and friends, and we pray that they might find comfort during this difficult time in God, each other, and Anne’s fulfilled desire to represent and serve our country.”

Army officials said the airmen were on a routine night training flight in two reconnaissance choppers when they crashed after 8 p.m. Monday in the southwest training area of the sprawling Joint Base Lewis-McChord, killing all four on board. An investigation into the cause of the accident by a team from Fort Rucker, Ala., began Wednesday.

Also among those killed was Chief Warrant Officer Lucas Daniel Sigfrid, 32, who went to high school and college in Minnesota and graduated from Champlin Park High School, in a suburb of Minneapolis.

He attended St. Cloud State University for pilot training before joining the Army, his cousin Mark Duclos told the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Sigfrid's wife and Duclos' wife are both pregnant, Duclos told the newspaper.

"We were just talking last week ... about if we're going to have boys and they would grow up like us. We were just hellions," Duclos said.

Sigfrid's former high school wrestling coach, Bill Maresh, said he wrestled all four years of high school and wasn't a champion but was a good guy who was dedicated to the sport and his team.

While other wrestlers might quit after two years if they're not successful, Maresh said Sigfrid stuck with the program.

"He was just one of those guys who kept coming, and he fought as hard as he could all the time," Maresh told The Associated Press.

Chief Warrant Officer Frank A. Buoniconti, 36, of Colorado Springs, Colo., had served on active duty since July 1994, and arrived at the base in early November. He previously served at Fort Bragg, N.C., and the National Training Center, in Fort Irwin, Calif. He was deployed twice to Iraq and twice to Afghanistan. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.

Silvia Buoniconti of Colorado Springs, Colo., told The Colorado Springs Gazette that her son followed his father into the military, serving three overseas tours. He joined up because "he felt it was the right thing to do," she said.

Joint Base Lewis-McChord is one of the largest bases in the country, with about 100,000 military and civilian personnel. In December 2006, a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter from Fort Lewis crashed southeast of Seattle during a night training mission, killing all three aboard.

Statement from Rep. Rick Berg

“Tracy and I are saddened to hear of the recent helicopter accident that took the lives of four American soldiers, including North Dakota’s own Capt. Anne Montgomery. We appreciate her service to our nation and her leadership in the U.S. Army, and we extend our deepest condolences to her family and friends. We also keep in our thoughts and prayers the friends and families of the other soldiers lost in this tragedy.”

ND Gov. Jack Dalrymple statement

“Betsy and I are saddened by the death of Capt. Anne Montgomery and by the deaths of her fellow soldiers,” Dalrymple said. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to their families and their loved ones.”

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