Airman from Minn. killed in Afghanistanby Jessica Mador, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — An Air Force pilot from Minnesota was killed when his aircraft went down in Afghanistan Friday, according to the Department of Defense.
The crash killed three service members and one civilian contractor. Two of the people killed have yet to be identified. The military says Maj. Randell Voas, 43, of Lakeville died when his U.S. Air Force Osprey crashed in southeastern Afghanistan.
Senior Master Sgt. James Lackey of Green Clove Springs, Fla., was also killed. Both men were assigned to the 8th Special Operations Squadron at Hurlburt Field in Florida.
"He loved flying," Voas' father Dwaine Voas told MPR News over the phone as he made his way to Dover Air Force Base to meet his son's casket.
Randell Voas was a career military man with almost two decades of service between the Air Force and the Army, where he flew Apache helicopters.
Dwaine Voas said his son transferred to the Air Force so he could fly missions for special operations, a unit which often deploys on short notice.
Dwaine Voas said his son always tried to make the most of his time at home with his wife Jill, his daughter Madde and his son Mitchell.
"He was fortunate to delay being deployed by about a week this time," he said, "because Mitchell had his tonsils removed just two weeks ago, so he was able to be home for that. He was grateful for that."
Dwaine Voas said his son had been in Afghanistan for just over a week when his aircraft went down. This is the first crash for the Osprey, a special operations aircraft, in combat and details are still emerging.
Military officials say the Osprey went down after dark in Zabul province, about 200 miles southwest of Kabul.
The military has been using the Osprey for about four years. The aircraft takes off and lands like a helicopter, but its engines roll forward in flight, allowing it to fly like a fixed-wing plane - much farther and much faster than a standard chopper.
The Osprey, which cost nearly $70 million apiece, can carry several dozen troops or 10,000 pounds of supplies. The planes are used extensively in Afghanistan to transport and supply troops spread across remote, mountainous areas.
From the beginning of its development the aircraft sparked controversy for its cost, design flaws and other problems, which almost led to its cancellation. More recently, several fatal incidents have continued to fuel debate over the aircraft, including a crash in Arizona in 2000, which killed 19 Marines during training exercises.
Initial news reports on the latest crash indicated Taliban fighters were taking credit. These reports have since been questioned.
NATO officials say the cause of the crash is unknown and the investigation is ongoing.
Randell Voas' father Dwaine said his son knew the risks of his job, but he loved it anyway. He last spoke with his son about three weeks ago.
"It sounded like he was ready to go, that that was where his assignment was," he said. "I describe him as a person who loved America, he loved his family, he loved the Army when he was in, and the Air Force now. He loved flying the aircraft he was flying...He was just basically a good guy and he knew how to get things done."
The family has not yet decided on funeral arrangements. Dwaine Voas said Randell's wife is still in shock. He was planning to represent the family at Dover Air Force Base Saturday night, to meet his son's body.