A Twin Cities native, an officer from North Dakota and two other soldiers died Monday when two Army helicopters crashed at a base in Washington state.
Chief Warrant Officer 2 Lucas Sigfrid, 32, a Champlin Park High School graduate, was killed in the crash at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, said his cousin Mark Duclos.
"We were like best friends," Duc- los said. The cousins' wives are both pregnant, Duclos added, and "we were just talking last week ... about if we're going to have boys and they would grow up like us. We were just hellions."
Sigfrid also attended St. Cloud State University for pilot training before joining the Army, Duc- los said.
Sigfrid's former high school wrestling coach, Bill Maresh, said he wrestled all four years of high school and wasn't a champion but a good guy who was dedicated to the sport and his team.
While other wrestlers might quit after two years if they're not successful, Maresh said Sigfrid stuck with the program.
"He was just one of those guys who kept coming, and he fought as hard as he could all the time," Maresh said.
Base spokesman Lt. Col. Gary Dangerfield said that Sigfrid had served on active duty since May 2008, was assigned to Joint Base Lewis-McChord in January and had yet to serve overseas.
His awards include the National Defense Service Medal and the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and the Army Aviator Badge, Dangerfield added.
The identities of the four who were killed during the routine night training, two aviators in each helicopter, were released by military officials Wednesday afternoon. The others are:
Capt. Anne M. Montgomery, 25, a West Point graduate from near Watford City, N.D.; Chief Warrant Officer 3 Frank A. Buoniconti, 36, of Colorado; and Chief Warrant Officer 3 Joseph S. Satterfield, 32, of Alaska.
Montgomery, the eldest child of Kurt and Kathleen Rockeman, graduated from West Point in 2008 after years of home schooling and time in private schools overseas while her father worked for U.S. Agency for International Development.
"To get an appointment to West Point was just out of this world. Her granddad, my dad, was a World War II veteran and was so proud of his service he was just floating on air when she got that appointment," said her uncle Keith Rockeman, of Grassy Butte, N.D. "She always had this dream of flying. My brother was a pilot, he was in the Civil Air Patrol here in North Dakota. She inherited that love of flying from him."
She married another Army helicopter pilot, Chief Warrant Officer Aaron H. Montgomery, in May 2010.
Dangerfield said an investigative team from Fort Rucker, Ala., arrived Tuesday night in Seattle and was beginning its investigation Wednesday.
The two-seat reconnaissance choppers crashed after 8 p.m. Monday in a training area of the sprawling base. The military has yet to say whether the aircraft collided or crashed separately.
The aircraft involved were OH-58D Kiowa Warrior helicopters, often called scout helicopters, which are used for armed reconnaissance.
Located just south of Tacoma, Joint Base Lewis-McChord is one of the largest in the country, with about 100,000 military and civilian personnel.
In December 2006, a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter from Fort Lewis crashed southeast of Seattle during a night training mission, killing all three aboard.
The Associated Press contributed to this report. Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482