Memorial funds have been set up for the families of the three Minnesota National Guard soldiers who were killed when their Black Hawk helicopter crashed on the edge of a snowy Stearns County farm field last week.
A Beyond the Yellow Ribbon memorial fund was set up in memory of Chief Warrant Officer 2 Charles P. Nord, 30, of Perham; Chief Warrant Officer 2 James A. Rogers Jr., 28, of Winsted; and Sgt. Kort M. Plantenberg, 28, of Avon.
Donations can dropped off at Deerwood Bank or mailed to the bank at P.O. Box 337, Waite Park, MN 56387. Donations can also be taken over the phone by calling 320-252-4200. Donors who want to direct their donations for a specific purpose can send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
A separate GoFundMe page also was set up in Nord's memory to help the family he left behind — his wife, Kaley; his 2-year-old daughter Lydia; and a son on the way. The fund had raised more than $27,000 of its $100,000 goal in less than a day.
The three soldiers began a routine maintenance test flight when they lifted off about 2 p.m. Dec. 5 from the St. Cloud airport. Nine minutes later, the crew sent out a mayday alert and then communications with the UH-60 Black Hawk were lost. After an intense search, a State Patrol helicopter with thermal-imaging cameras spotted the wreckage in a line of trees.
Investigators arrived Saturday to begin the investigation into the crash while National Guard officials paid tribute to the fallen soldiers.
The three were assigned to Company C, 2-211th General Support Aviation Battalion, out of St. Cloud. They had returned in May from a nine-month deployment to the Middle East, where they conducted medical evacuations.
Funeral services will be held in the next few days. Services for Plantenberg will be at 1 p.m. Thursday at St. John's Abbey Church in Collegeville. Services for Rogers will at 1 p.m. Sunday at Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted High School in Howard Lake. And services for Nord will be at 11 a.m. Monday at Perham High School.