The U.S. Department of Defense announced Saturday the names of six airmen killed after an Air Force cargo plane crashed at the Jalalabad Airfield in Afghanistan. The crash killed 11 people around midnight local time Friday, according to media reports.
What caused the C-130J Super Hercules to crash was under investigation, independent U.S. military news outlet Stars and Stripes reported. There were conflicting claims by the Taliban and NATO forces that enemy fire in the area brought it down.
Defense officials announced the following airmen were killed: 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; and Senior Airman Quinn L. Johnson-Harris, 21, of Milwaukee. Those four were members of the 39th Airlift Squadron out of Dyess Air Force Base in Texas, according to the Stars and Stripes report.
Also killed were Senior Airman Nathan C. Sartain, 29, of Pensacola, Florida, and Airman 1st Class Kcey E. Ruiz, 21, of McDonough, Georgia. Both were members of the 66th Security Forces Squadron out of Hanscom Air Force Base in Massachusetts.
R.I.P Kcey Ruiz _____ pic.twitter.com/86oRGYHLt5
— smitty. (@trvssia) October 3, 2015
The Taliban Friday claimed responsibility for the crash, according to several media reports. However, NATO had not confirmed its cause and said the Taliban is known for exaggerating battlefield claims. The U.S. military, also on Friday, denied with “high confidence” the Taliban’s claims of having shot down the plane.
The C-130J is a four-propeller aircraft, manufactured by the U.S. defense contractor Lockheed Martin, that is typically used to transport troops and military equipment in and out of warzones. Approximately 10,000 U.S. troops are still stationed in Afghanistan as part of President Barack Obama's plan to leave a small force in the country to assist Afghan government forces.
The cargo plane crash came as Afghan government forces and Taliban militants were engaged in a counterinsurgency campaign in the country’s northeastern region. The U.S. and international coalition forces were involved in aerial bombings that hit a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz early Saturday morning. The attack killed 12 members of the international humanitarian group’s staff and at least seven hospital patients, including three children, Doctors Without Borders said. At least 37 other people were injured.