Four active duty airmen were killed in Afghanistan over the weekend when their MC-12 Intelligence Aircraft crashed-- a plane that is very familiar to Meridian. For four years, the MC-12 program was based in Meridian at Key Field. The 186th trained more than 1,200 active duty airmen on the MC-12, then deployed them straight to the theater. The MC-12 Program was transferred to Beale Air Force Base in California in 2011. Colonel Franklin Chalk, the Wing Commander of the 186th, spoke with us from Gulfport Monday night about the crash. Col. Chalk says it's unclear whether the airmen or aircraft lost had been through Meridian in training:
"We got a call Saturday late saying that one had crashed, and that none of our Mississippians were involved. We've got people there right now flying missions. We're not certain at this time if any of (those killed) had passed through Meridian for their training. We don't know for sure if that airplane had passed through Meridian for training also. Of course our deepest condolences go out to the family members of those who were lost."
An investigation is underway into the cause of the crash, but initial reports are that there was no enemy activity when the plane went down. Those who died include 28-year old Capt. Brandon Cyr of Woodbridge, Virginia, 30-year old Capt. Reid Nishizuka of Hawaii; 24-year old Staff Sergeant Richard Dickson of Rancho Cordova, California, and 30-year old Daniel Fannin of Morehead, Kentucky.