The military said a 26-year-old Virginia captain was killed Wednesday in a helicopter crash near Fort Stewart.
Capt. James T. Bellew, of Charlottesville, Va., died in the crash involving two HH-60 helicopters at Wright Army Airfield, adjacent to Fort Stewart, around 2 a.m. March 30, the army said in a press release. The military initially said the accident involved UH-60s, an older and more generalized version of the Black Hawk.
Details of the accident have not been released.
Bellew joined the Army in 2017 and has been an Aeromedical Evacuation Officer with the 3rd Infantry Division’s 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade since March 2020.
A classmate of Bellew’s at the University of Virginia, Valerie Gwen, posted on Facebook that she and Bellew were the only two of 15 Army Airmen to be commissioned through the Army ROTC program. school in 2017.
“I can’t believe he’s gone,” she said in her Facebook post. “He was a great friend, an amazing person, a great Latin class study buddy, and he became a dedicated pilot in the nine years I knew him.”
Gwen said Bellew had “comic timing that would make even a general laugh”.
“I’m sure he would have created a lot more joy and laughter throughout his life if he had had more time,” Gwen said.
“The loss of James is an immeasurable tragedy for his family, friends, crew and fellow soldiers,” said Colonel Eric Vanek, commander of the 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade. “James was part of one of the noblest professions imaginable; he dedicated his life to serving our country and did so in a role where he constantly helped and saved the lives of others.
Aeromedical Evacuation Officers coordinate and fly on medical evacuation flights and “Dustoff”, the designation of medical helicopters on rapid response alert to respond to combat injuries.
The aircraft involved in the Fort Stewart accident, the HH-60s, are the Army’s designated medical evacuation helicopters.
Vanek said Bellew was his company’s senior platoon leader and was an invaluable member of the team during brigade missions.
The military said the incident was being investigated by officials from the Criminal Investigations Division, which is common for non-combat deaths of any soldier. A security investigation team is also investigating the incident.
“The support we have received from across the military and from our coastal Georgia community has already been greatly appreciated. While this ongoing investigation continues, we are focused on making sure our soldiers have all the resources they need, like chaplains and behavioral health, and that we support the Bellew family,” added Vanek.
Bellew’s previous assignment was at Camp Casey, South Korea, as a field medical assistant from September 2017 to September 2018.
Read more : Fort Stewart soldier killed in crash of two UH-60 Black Hawks