Utah Man Killed in Military Crash in Albania

Utah Man Killed in Military Crash in Albania

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TIRANA, Albania (AP) -- The U.S. European Command has released the identities of nine Americans, including one from Utah, who were killed when a military aircraft crashed in mountainous southern Albania during a joint exercise last week.

The C-130 airplane crashed Thursday night near the remote village of Rovie, in the Drizez Mountains, 60 miles southeast of the Balkan country's capital, Tirana. No one on board, all Air Force personnel, survived, according to Albanian army Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Pellumb Qazimi.

The Utah victim was Staff Sgt. Patrick R. Pentico, 22, of Hanksville.

Other victims were Capt. Todd R. Bracy, 34, of Murphysboro, Ill.; Air Force Capt. James S. Cronin, 32, of Elk Grove Village, Ill.; Chief Master Sgt. Lawrence B. Gray, 40, of Chester, South Carolina; Tech. Sgt. James R. Henry, 30, of Valparaiso, Florida; Capt. Surender C. Kothakota, 30; Tech. Sgt. Glenn P. Lastes, 39; 1st Lt. Ray C. Owens Jr., 32, of Birmingham, Ala.; and Capt. Gil C. Williamson, 31, of Dike, Texas.

"I extend my deepest sympathies to the families of these brave young airmen," Army Brig. Gen. Thomas Csrnko, commander of Special Operations Command Europe, said Monday. "We all share in the sorrow and pain of their loss. We will not forget their sacrifice, and we stand ready to support their families at this difficult time."

Maj. Holly Silkman of the European Command said an investigation into the crash was expected to take several weeks.

"We do not know yet the cause of the accident," she said. "The next thing will be the result of the investigation."

Albania, seeking eventual membership in NATO, has close ties to the U.S. military. It backed the American-led campaign in Iraq, where it has deployed a small unit of 71 troops. Albania also has peacekeeping contingents in Afghanistan and in nearby Bosnia.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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