The Defense Department has released the name of a second North Carolina-based medic who was among seven troops killed Wednesday when a helicopter crashed in Iraq, although it appears the helicopter and its flight crew were from Camp Pendleton in California.
Navy Hospital Corpsman First Class Gilbert Minjares Jr., 31, of New Bern, died with six others in the helicopter crash. He was assigned to Marine Aircraft Group 14, 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing at Cherry Point, and lived in El Paso, Texas, before joining the Navy.
The Marine CH-46 Sea Knight transport helicopter crashed about 20 miles northwest of Baghdad. All seven crew members and passengers were killed, military officials said. It was the sixth loss of a U.S. helicopter in Iraq in less than three weeks.
Local witnesses said it had been shot down, and today The Associated Press reported that an insurgent group linked to al-Qaida had posted a Web video showing what it said was the downing of the helicopter. U.S. military officials, meanwhile, repeated statements that the aircraft had mechanical problems.
According to published reports Friday, the pilot and crew chief were with a Marine unit based at Pendleton. Family members told the Boston Herald that the pilot was Capt. Jennifer Harris, 27, of Swampscott, Mass. In Washington state, the Tri-City Herald reported that the crew chief was Sgt. Travis Pfister, 27, of Richland, Wash.
The News & Observer had previously reported that another North Carolina-based corpsman Petty Officer 3rd Class Manuel Ruiz, 21, of Federalsburg, Md. had been killed in the crash. Ruiz was assigned to 2nd Medical Battalion, 2nd Marine Logistics Group, II Marine Expeditionary Force at Camp Lejeune.
Minjares is survived by his wife, a 2-year-old son and a 4-week-old baby.