Maine’s congressional delegation reacts to deadly helicopter crash in Afghanistan

Posted Aug. 07, 2011, at 1:09 p.m.
Last modified Aug. 07, 2011, at 4:43 p.m.

WASHINGTON — Members of Maine’s congressional delegation reacted Sunday to the deaths of 30 American service members, an Afghan civilian interpreter and seven Afghan commandos.

They died early Saturday when their Chinook was downed in Wardak province’s Sayd Abad district, about 60 miles southwest of Kabul.

A current U.S. official and a former U.S. official said the Americans included 22 Navy SEALs, three Air Force combat controllers and a dog handler, his dog and four crew members. The two spoke on condition of anonymity because military officials were still notifying the families of the dead.

“I am deeply saddened by the loss of these brave and heroic service members whose courage and valor in our nation’s defense have protected the very freedoms and liberties we hold dear,” U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe said in a statement issued Sunday morning. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to their families and loved ones following this heartbreaking loss.

“Fearlessly entering harm’s way on behalf of our country, their selfless bravery can never be repaid but must never be forgotten,” Snowe said. “We are forever grateful and indebted to these true heroes, who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation.”

“My thoughts and prayers are with the families and loved ones of the U.S. troops and Special Operations Forces who died in Afghanistan,” U.S. Sen. Susan Collins said in a statement issued Sunday afternoon.

“Our nation will be forever grateful for the selfless service of those who made the ultimate sacrifice, and for the bravery of all the men and women who serve our country,” she said. “We owe them a debt of gratitude which we can never fully repay.”

Rep. Mike Michaud, D-East Millinocket, who represents Maine’s 2nd Congressional District, is a member of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

“I join all Americans in extending our deepest sympathies to the families and friends of the service members lost yesterday in Afghanistan,” he said in a statement issued Sunday afternoon. “These courageous heroes were some of America’s finest and their loss is heartbreaking.

“That they were returning from a successful mission to help an Army Ranger unit that had been pinned down by insurgents is another reason why these service members will always be remembered as brave American heroes,” he continued. “My thoughts and prayers are with their families in this sorrowful moment.”

Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-North Haven,who represents the state’s 1st Congressional District, also issued her condolences.

“The loss of the brave men and women who serve our country is always a great tragedy, and our thoughts and prayers are with their families,” she said in a statement. “I hope they take some comfort in knowing they have the profound gratitude of the nation and we are proud of their service and sacrifice. I look forward to the day when all our service members come home and are no longer in harm’s way.”

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