10 years later: 7th SOS remembers Wrath-11

RAF MILDENHALL, England -- Air Commandos from the 352nd Special Operations Wing gathered to remember the 10th anniversary of the Wrath-11 crash in a stoic ceremony March 31, 2015, memorializing the nine aircrew who lost their lives.

“Today marks the 10th anniversary of the unfortunate loss of Wrath-11,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Roy Oberhaus, 7th Special Operations Squadron commander. “There are a number of 352nd SOW personnel who served with those who were lost in the tragic crash. Remembering them in this way is a great way to honor their sacrifices.”

In March 2005, approximately 115 airmen from the 352nd Special Operations Group at RAF Mildenhall were in Albania conducting Joint Combined Exchange Training with the Albanian military. The JCET training included the MC-130H Combat Talon II aircrews flying over mountainous terrain using night vision goggles, low-level flying using Terrain Following/Terrain Avoidance Radar, airdrops, and executing self-contained approaches.

On March 31, 2005, two MC-130Hs and one MC-130P Shadow were participating in a night training mission. At about 11:05 a.m., a 7th Special Operations Squadron MC-130H (Tail No. 87-0127), call sign WRATH-11, crashed into a mountain, resulting in the loss of all nine aircrew aboard.

“The crew had been conducting NVG low-level flying operations at roughly 300 feet above ground level before the mishap occurred,” said William Landau, 352nd SOW historian. “U.S. Air Force Special Tactics and Albanian special operators and personnel arrived on the scene, but a rescue operation soon turned into a recovery operation.”

Below are the nine fallen comrades:

From the 7th SOS
U.S. Air Force Capt. Todd R. Bracy, pilot, 34, of Murphysboro, Illinois
U.S. Air Force Capt. James S. Cronin, navigator, 32, of Oak Grove Village, Illinois
U.S. Air Force Capt. Surender D. Kothakota, co-pilot, 30, of Fayetteville, North Carolina
U.S. Air Force Capt. Gil C. Williamson, electronic warfare officer, 31, of Dike, Texas
U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Ray C. Owens, Jr., electronic warfare officer, 32, of Birmingham, Alabama
U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Lawrence B. Gray, flight engineer, 40, of Chester, South Carolina
U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. James R. Henry, loadmaster, 30, of Valparaiso, Florida
U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Patrick R. Pentico, loadmaster, 22, of Hanksville, Utah

From Detachment 2, 25th Intelligence Squadron
U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Glenn P. Lastes, direct support operator, 39, of Southington, Connecticut

Since the military trains as they fight, there is a requirement to conduct realistic military training.

“U.S. Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, recently said in regard to a deadly helicopter training accident, ‘those who serve put themselves at risk, both in training and in combat,’ – so the crew of Wrath-11 died conducting such training,” Landau said.
With Wrath-11, the aircrew were undergoing routine training mission when the mishap occurred.

“And so it is today, as it was then,” Landau said. “In the immediate aftermath of a the crash, U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Thomas Csrnko, the commander of Special Operations Command – Europe at the time remarked, ‘We will not forget their sacrifice.’”

The 352nd SOW Air Commandos have a long memory and continue to pay respects to those who came before them.

“Today, 10 years later, we have not forgotten,” Oberhaus said. “We remember.”