Military Officials Investigate What Led To Airstrike That Killed U.S. Troops, Including Ohioan
Ohio native Justin Helton was one of those soldiers killed when a U.S. aircraft made the fatal mistake of dropping explosives on its own troops.
His family and friends are looking for answers as they plan his funeral.
“I talked to him a week ago. He called me from Afghanistan,” said friend Zach Alexander.
Alexander says he never imagined his that would be the last time he heard his best friend's voice. Twenty-four hours later, the news is sinking in.
"It just pulled the life right out of me. I just went numb,” added Alexander.
Helton and four other soldiers died in what's being called one of the worst friendly fire incidents since the War on Terror began. A U.S. aircraft called to support troops during a battle with the Taliban, accidentally dropped on a bomb on its own troops.
The Pentagon is now investigating if the incident was the result of human or mechanical error.
Beaver, Ohio is not the only community mourning the loss of a soldier.
Private Aaron Toppen, 19, was from Mokena, Illinois.
“He told me he was going on a mission; it was going to be all right. Mom, I'm with the best men there. I love you,” said Toppen’s mother, Pam.
Justin Sprouse was from Washington. His family said that he was the kind of person more worried about others back home than his own safety in Afghanistan.
Families of the soldiers who were killed got the news from military members who came to the door in the middle of the night.
For friends and family that grew up with Helton, it's a deep loss.
Mindy Helton says her cousin specialized in dealing with explosives and was based out of Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
She says he had been in Afghanistan about two months and was engaged to be married. He had been in the Army since 2010.