Tributes paid to US aircrew killed in helicopter crash at Cley

Capt Sean Ruane, left, and Tech Sgt Dale Mathews, two of the American servicemen killed in the Cley helicopter crash. Capt Sean Ruane, left, and Tech Sgt Dale Mathews, two of the American servicemen killed in the Cley helicopter crash.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014
9:07 PM

Tributes have tonight been paid to the four aircrew killed in a helicopter crash at Cley on the north Norfolk coast during a training exercise.

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Capt Christopher Stover, of the American servicemen killed in the Cley helicopter crash.Capt Christopher Stover, of the American servicemen killed in the Cley helicopter crash.

RAF Lakenheath have tonight officially named the four aircrew who lost their lives in the tragedy as Captains Christopher S. Stover and Sean M. Ruane, Technical Sergeant Dale E. Mathews and Staff Sergeant Afton M. Ponce.

RAF Lakenheath, where US Airforce 48th Fighter Wing is based, said that Captains Stover and Ruane were the pilots, while Tech. Sgt. Mathews and SSgt Ponce were acting as special mission aviators.

Colonel Kyle Robinson, 48th Fighter Wing commander, said: “We continue to think of the loved ones who are experiencing such a tragic, sudden loss.

“The Liberty Wing feels as though it has lost members of its family, and we stand by to support one another and these airmen’s families during this difficult time.”

Tributes have been paid online tonight to Capt Sean Ruane, who leaves behind his wife Rachel and their young son Liam.

His cousin Brian Meyer tweeted: “My cousin died in a helicopter crash tonight. Pretty tore up about this.

“Everyone: thanks for all the kindness. I’ll pass it along to his wife and child when we see each other soon.”

Mateo Spencer wrote: “Rest in Peace to my friend Sean Ruane, aircraft pilot downed in a crash in England today.”

Mrs Ruane described her husband as “outgoing and dedicated to others” on a wedding website at the time of their marriage in July 2011.

She said: “Sean is a pilot in the Airforce and he flies Pavehawk Rescue Helicopters.

“I am so proud of what he does and that he has chosen to serve our country.

“Sean is outgoing and loves to spend time with his friends and family. His dedication to others is one of his best attributes. There are very few men like him.

“I consider myself very blessed because Sean is my perfect match and we have so much to look forward to.”

Authorities have said that the bodies of those killed in the crash are unlikely to be recovered until tomorrow.

Do you know any of the airmen? Would you like to pay tribute? Call reporter Peter Walsh on 01603 772436 or email peter.walsh@archant.co.uk

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