Quick Takes

Remains of Army helicopter pilot Shane Barnes of Hopkinsville found in Mediterranean Sea

By: - December 22, 2023 3:41 pm

The Barnes family (from left) Katherine, Shane, Amelia and Samantha. (Photo provided)

The remains of Chief Warrant Officer 2 Shane Barnes, of Hopkinsville — and two other special operations soldiers who died when their Blackhawk helicopter crashed on Nov. 10 — have been recovered from the Mediterranean Sea, U.S. military officials and the Barnes family said.

A team of Navy and Army personnel, along with deep-ocean salvage experts, recovered the downed Blackhawk with the soldiers’ remains, Naval officials said in a press release issued on Thursday.

The remains were flown to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware. Barnes’ wife, Samantha Barnes, and his parents, Michael and Kelly Barnes, also of Hopkinsville, traveled this week to Dover to begin the process of planning final arrangements. They were returning to Kentucky on Friday, said Kelly Barnes.

“We are grateful for Army and Navy leadership in their commitment to bring our son, Sammy’s husband, and his Brothers in Service home,” Kelly wrote in a Facebook post. “This journey continues to be incredibly difficult, yet we are surrounded by love and kindness. Shane will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery. The date is pending. Please continue to hold all five families and the 160th SOAR in your prayers.”

Five soldiers, including Barnes, died in the crash during an in-flight training exercise. The crew was conducting an aerial refueling exercise when the helicopter went down. The crash was not the result of hostile fire, according to a Department of Defense report.

All five soldiers were assigned to the 1st Battalion, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, at Fort Campbell. In addition to Barnes, they were Stephen Dwyer, 38, of Clarksville, Tennessee; Tanner Grone, 26, of Gorham, New Hampshire; Andrew Southard, 27, of Apache Junction, Arizona, and Cade Wolfe, 24, of Mankato, Minnesota.

The remains of two soldiers were recovered in the initial rescue efforts immediately after the crash. The military has not officially named the soldiers who were initially found and those who were recovered this week.

“The success of this mission can be attributed to highly trained Sailors, Soldiers, and civilians from the combined Army-Navy team who came together and displayed extreme skill to safely recover the helicopter,” Navy Commander John Kennedy said in the press release. “Everyone onboard was humbled by the opportunity to play a small role in helping to bring closure to grieving families.”

A memorial service for Barnes was conducted Dec. 9 at Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church in Hopkinsville.

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Jennifer P. Brown, Hoptown Chronicle

Jennifer P. Brown is the publisher, editor and co-founder of Hoptown Chronicle. She has been writing about Hopkinsville for 35 years — first as a reporter and editor for the Kentucky New Era for three decades and more recently as an independent journalist. Brown co-chairs the national advisory board to the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues at the University of Kentucky and is governing board president for the Kentucky Historical Society. She is a co-founder of the Kentucky Open Government Coalition. She serves on the Community Advisory Board of WKMS, the public radio station at Murray State University. Brown earned the Bachelor of Science in Journalism at Murray and the MFA in Creative Nonfiction at Goucher College, Baltimore.