Updated: December 14, 2011 at 12:00 am
RAINIER, Wash. — The four Army aviators killed when two helicopters crashed during training at a Washington state base were identified Wednesday as investigators look into the cause of the collision,
Joint Base Lewis-McChord released the names of those killed: They are Capt. Anne M. Montgomery, a native of North Dakota; Chief Warrant Officer Frank A. Buoniconti, a native of Colorado Springs; Chief Warrant Officer Joseph S. Satterfield, a native of Alaska; and Chief Warrant Officer Lucas Daniel Sigfrid, a native of Alabama.
An investigation into the cause of the accident by a team from Fort Rucker, Ala., began Wednesday. Lt. Col. Gary Dangerfield says the investigation could take as long as a year.
The two-seat reconnaissance choppers crashed after 8 p.m. Monday in the southwest training area of the sprawling base, killing all four on board. The aircraft involved were OH-58D Kiowa Warrior helicopters, often called scout helicopters. The single-engine, four-bladed aircraft are used for armed reconnaissance.
Montgomery, 25, has served on active duty since August 2008 and arrived at the Washington base a year ago. She is a 2008 graduate of the United States Military Academy and had not been deployed overseas.
Buoniconti, 36, has 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. His awards include the Distinguished Flying Cross.
Satterfield, 32, has been on active duty since September 1997 and has been at the Washington base since December 2009. He has had assignments in Korea and at Fort Campbell, Ky., and deployed once to Iraq and once to Afghanistan.
Sigfrid, 32, has been on active duty since May 2008 and at the Washington base since January of this year. He has not deployed overseas.
Army officials said the airmen were on a routine night training flight and said the weather was clear after the helicopters went down a couple miles from the community of Rainier, which is south of Tacoma.
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.