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Video: ‘You are in our hearts and minds’ - tributes paid to four Suffolk-based airmen killed in helicopter crash

PUBLISHED: 15:47 08 January 2014 | UPDATED: 15:48 08 January 2014

The wreckage of a US Air Force HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter that crashed during a training exercise, killing four crew members at around 7pm yesterday. Photo: Chris Radburn/PA.

The wreckage of a US Air Force HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter that crashed during a training exercise, killing four crew members at around 7pm yesterday. Photo: Chris Radburn/PA.

Tributes have been paid to the four Suffolk-based crew members killed when a US military helicopter crashed in a Norfolk nature reserve during a training mission.

The RAF Lakenheath-based Pave Hawk aircraft was taking part in a low-flying exercise when it came down in a nature reserve in Cley-next-the-Sea in the north of the county near Salthouse at around 6pm yesterday.

Col. Kyle Robinson, commander of the 48th Fighter Wing at RAF Lakenheath, today paid his respects to the four airmen, saying they are “in our hearts and minds”.

“The loss of our Liberty Wing brethren is felt deeply across RAF Lakenheath,” he said.

“I can only imagine the hurt and sorrow felt by the family and friends of these Airmen. You are in our hearts and minds.

“We’re already feeling a great sense of support from across the Air Force and from our UK neighbors as we go through this difficult period. Thank you for keeping our airmen and their families in your thoughts and prayers.”

Emergency services have been working at the scene throughout the night with the help of military personnel and volunteers.

Residents told of hearing a “heavy and very unusual” sound overhead as the helicopter – which specialises in recovering troops from war zones – plummeted in to marshland at the Norfolk Wildlife Trust Cley Marshes Nature Reserve.

Police have held their first press conference as specialists examine the site described as “the size of a football pitch” with bullets “scattered” around.

A statement from the 48th Fighter Wing of RAF Lakenheath this afternoon added: “US Air Force personnel continue to work alongside UK civilian and military authorities at the scene of the HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter crash.

“The crash occurred at about 6p. yesterday in Cley on the Norfolk coast. On-scene emergency responders have confirmed that four airmen died in the crash.

“Norfolk police still have the lead on the crash site investigation. Support agencies on scene include personnel from the 48th Fighter Wing medical group, fire department, safety office, and security forces squadron.

“More information will be provided as it becomes available.”

It is understood another press conference is set to be held later today.

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