It is very humbling for me to write an article about this event because it involves the loss of four brave Patriots. I do not want the importance of their mission to go unrecognized by the American people in general; becoming just another prime-time news blurb or NATO press release from Afghanistan. So here are the early facts and some secondary reporting I found posted around the internet.

On Sunday, the Department of Defense first reported that a small MC-12 aircraft crashed near Kandahar Airfield on Saturday, April 27. Initial reports by NATO officials indicated no enemy activity in the area at the time and that ISAF/coalition personnel secured the site and the cause of the crash was being investigated.

However, Mohammad Jan Rasoulyar, Deputy Governor of the southern province of Zabul, said an aircraft belonging to foreign forces crashed Saturday afternoon in Shah Joy district. He said the site had been surrounded by international forces. The province’s police chief added that bad weather caused the crash in the district of Shahjoi.

Zabul Province, Afghanistan
Zabul Province, Afghanistan

The Department of Defense has identified the four Americans that were killed in the crash. All were members of the 552nd Operations Group.

  • Captain Brandon L. Cyr, 28, of Woodbridge, Virginia
  • Captain Reid K. Nishizuka, 30, of Kailua, Hawaii
  • Staff Sergeant Richard A. Dickson, 24, of Rancho Cordova, California
  • Staff Sergeant Daniel N. Fannin, 30, of Morehead, Kentucky

Ski’s take on this situation, purely gut and experience based.

NATO and the Department of Defense are reporting that the aircraft went down near Kandahar Airfield, while local Afghan government officials are saying the crash site was in the Zabul Province, near the high profile tribal areas along the Pakistan border. The Deputy Provincial Governor, Mohammad Rasoulyar, has no real motive to deny operations in this area. On the other hand, the U.S. and ISAF would prefer to keep this sensitive region out of the media limelight. So take it for what it’s worth.

Many people know very little about the MC-12 Liberty Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) Aircraft’s mission in Afghanistan and the important role that these airborne teams play in gathering real-time and actionable intelligence from the battlefield.

American surveillance aircraft crashes in Afghanistan, 2 pilots killed

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These aircraft and their missions are Tier 1 asset. They are far less common than other sensor platforms like the MQ-1 and MQ-9 which have weapons employment capabilities. MC-12s are often used as a direct support asset for T1 ground elements because of their ability to quickly correlate real time video feeds and signal information to the operating force.

The personnel operating these aircraft are directly related to saving the lives of coalition troops and play a key component in the “takedown” of many HVTs (high value targets) in country. These men were at the tip of the spear, operating in the most volatile and dangerous restate in the world. Thank you for your service to our country and may fair winds carry you safely home.

Stay the course –Ski


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Dedicated to the loving memory and sacrifice of GySgt. Robert L. Gilbert & SSgt. Patrick R. Dolphin