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McCain says Army soldier killed in Black Hawk crash from Tucson

(U.S. Army Photo)

PHOENIX — U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said an Army soldier who died in a Black Hawk helicopter crash in Yemen last month was from Tucson.

Staff Sgt. Emil Rivera-Lopez was killed Aug. 25. McCain tweeted that he was from Arizona over Labor Day weekend.

Rivera-Lopez’s body has not been recovered and was presumed dead.

Military.com, a website that covers the military, said Rivera-Lopez was assigned to the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment. The unit “specializes in flying difficult nighttime missions, often ferrying ground special operations troops into battle,” according to the website.

The Arizona Daily Star said Rivera-Lopez had received several decorations, including the Army Commendation Medal for valor and the Army Achievement Medal.

Five other soldiers were rescued after the crash, which happened during a non-combat mission.

“Training events such as this are routinely held by U.S. forces within a theater of operations in order to maintain their proficiency within the operating environment,” Central Command said in a statement.. “Commanders deemed this location appropriate and safe for a routine training event, considering both the operational environment and weather conditions at the time.”

Yemen, located on the southern end of the Arabian Peninsula, is the Arab world’s poorest country and is engulfed in a yearslong civil war.

It is also home to what the U.S. considers the most dangerous branch of the al-Qaida terror network. U.S. special forces backed with Emirati troops launched a raid in Yemen in January under President Donald Trump that killed a U.S. Navy SEAL and 30 other people, including women, children and an estimated 14 militants.

The cause of the Black Hawk crash was under investigation.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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