In a routine peacekeeping mission that should have gone smoothly, eight soldiers were killed as their helicopter crashed over the Sinai Peninsula. Among the dead is a 31-year-old soldier from Katy, Capt. Seth Vernon Vandekamp.
Vandekamp was an Army officer and a Family Medicine Physician who recently completed his residency at Fort Bening. He was one of six Americans, along with a French soldier and a Czech soldier, who were killed when their Blackhawk helicopter mysteriously went down. A ninth passenger and peacemaker was badly injured and currently being hospitalized.
The Multinational Force and Observers (MFO) is investigating the cause of the crash and has not released details. They say the soldiers were on a routine mission near Sharm el-Sheikh, a resort city on the Red Sea, when their helicopter experienced technical difficulties and crashed into the sea.
Thus far, the crash is considered to be an accident, as there is no evidence of involvement by Islamic militant groups known to be active in Sinai.
Senator Ted Cruz said, “Heidi and I are lifting up in prayer the Vandekamp family, and all those affected by this crash. We also continue to pray for the American who remains hospitalized. The victims of this crash are patriots who risked their lives for liberty so that we may remain safe and free. As details continue to unfold surrounding this incident, let’s pause to remember the selflessness and bravery of America’s fallen servicemen and women.”
The other victims identified by the Army were Chief Warrant Officer 3 Dallas Gerald Garza, 34, from Fayetteville, North Carolina; Chief Warrant Officer 2 Marwan Sameh Ghabour, 27, from Marlborough, Massachusetts; Staff Sgt. Kyle Robert McKee, 35, from Painesville, Ohio, and Sgt. Jeremy Cain Sherman, 23, from Watseka, Illinois.
Israel’s Foreign Ministry released a statement expressing its “deepest sorrow,” and saying the MFO is “highly regarded for its work.”
“I send my sincere condolences to the families of those killed and wish a speedy recovery to all of the wounded,” said Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi.
It’s been four decades since the Israel-Egypt peace agreement, and the area has been monitored by the MFO ever since. The US is one of 13 countries contributing to the MFO. They monitor troops along the border and ensure freedom of navigation through the Strait of Tiran.
We at Katy Christian Magazine lift up these soldiers and our local Vandekamp family as they mourn the loss of Seth Vernon Vandekamp. As always, we thank every member of the military for their service.