Point of Contact:
U.S. Southern Command Public Affairs Office
Lt. Cmdr. Ron Flanders, Tel. 305-437-1206
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MIAMI – The United States Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) today confirmed the identity of a U.S. Airman killed in a plane crash Saturday in Colombia. The U.S.-contracted DH-8 aircraft crashed near the Panamanian border while conducting detection and monitoring operations in support of Operation Martillo, killing three Americans and a Panamanian.
Killed were: Air Force Master Sgt. Martin Gonzales, 39, two American defense contractors and Panamanian National Air-Naval Service Lt. Elroy Nunez. Colombian military forces rescued two U.S. contractors from the crash site and evacuated them to a hospital in Bogota. The two survivors are in stable condition after surgery.
“Our hearts remain with the families of the men who lost their lives in this tragic crash,” said Gen. John Kelly, SOUTHCOM commander. “It is a terrible tragedy, but we remain committed to finding out what happened and hopefully bring some sort of peace to the families.”
The cause of the crash is under investigation.
For questions about this event or Operation Martillo, contact U.S. Southern Command PA at 305-437-1213. For questions about Master Sgt. Gonzales’ individual service record, contact Maj. Jon Craig, National Guard Bureau Public Affairs at 703-601-6767.
For more information about U.S. Southern Command visit www.southcom.mil.
Master Sgt. Gonzales’ family asked that SOUTHCOM release the following statement on their behalf:
“The loss and pain of losing my husband, MSgt Martin Gonzales is indescribable. He passed away very tragically while proudly serving for the US Air Force. He loved his job and was willing to risk his own life for others. He leaves behind two beautiful children, Nathan 7 and Kaitlyn 4. This is a very difficult time for our family. I still can't believe the plane my husband was in crashed and took his life. All I have left are memories of him. It's difficult to know that I will never see or hear his voice again. To me, he is an American hero! “