DENVER (CBS4) – A Colorado Army National Guardsmen was among the 30 U.S. troops killed in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan.
Chief Warrant Officer David Carter, 47, from Aurora was a member of the Army National Guard’s Aviation Unit. Carter was the co-pilot of the Chinook helicopter that went down over the weekend. It crashed in the Wardak Province, west of Kabul. The crash site is still under investigation.
“He helped me almost on a daily basis,” fellow pilot Mike Silva said.
Silva, a former helicopter pilot for CBS4, trained with Carter in 2009 at Buckley Air Force Base.
“He was one of those individuals, one of those pilots that was above the standard,” Silva said.
Carter, a married father of two, was well known in the Guard as an expert pilot and a leader.
“He helped me out a lot to get me up to speed so I can do my job,” Silva said. “(He was) very conscientious, competent, he knew the machine … the risk is intense and there’s a great deal of danger.”
It was Carter’s third deployment. He had two tours in Iraq and was supposed to retire when he returned home.
On Facebook friends, those who served with him, and family left messages. Carter’s son wrote, “The best dad/man/role model anyone could ask for. You will be missed more than anything, Dad. Love you.”
“It’s a close-knit family, everybody knows everybody, and it’s a loss,” Silva said.
It’s a deep loss felt by the many who knew him, and even those who did not.
“It’s people like him that allow us to continue to survive, to live to enjoy the comforts of being here,” Silva said. “Just miss him. What we say in aviation is he’s gone West.”
Carter’s sister-in-law, who lives in Fort Collins, talked to CBS4′s Mike Hooker on the phone. She said he loved to hunt with his friends and had recently taken his son and daughter on a hunting trip.
Carter had more than 4,000 hours of flight time and 700 hours of combat time, but his neighbor, Yolanda Levesque, said Carter was much more than a helicopter pilot at a news conference held in Fort Collins Tuesday.
“He was an outstanding husband and father, son, brother and soldier. He was a friend to all who met him, quick with a smile, and always with a twinkle in his beautiful blue eyes,” Levesque said.
Along with Carter’s neighbors, some of the leaders of Colorado’s Army National Guard also spoke about Carter’s amazing work ethic. They said he was Colorado’s most experienced instructor on the Chinook helicopter.
“I know in my heart that Dave died at least doing something that he really believed in. He was flying our nation’s elite forces into combat. And as an aviator, that is what he wanted to do,” Col. Chris Petty said. “I can say that with great confidence.”
The troops killed in the deadliest incident of the Afghan war are now back home. Two C-17 aircraft carrying the remains of the 30 killed arrived Tuesday morning at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware. President Obama attended the private ceremony. The military ordered the ceremony closed to the public.