CLOVIS – Kevin Mason was on his way home.
The Clovis man, one of five civilians killed in Thursday’s C-130J transport plane crash in eastern Afghanistan, left a wife, Tammy, and three children, said JoLynn Lusk, a family friend.
“This was his last trip to go there. He was getting on the plane to come home. They were going to move to Albuquerque,” Lusk said.
Lusk said she thinks Mason met Clovis native Tammy Williams when he was stationed at Cannon Air Force Base. She did not know what they planned to do in Albuquerque.
Lusk said Tammy Mason was notified Thursday that her husband’s plane had crashed.
“They weren’t sure if there were any survivors” at first, Lusk said. “Then they called back and said there were none. It’s such a blow and a shock.”
Lusk said she wasn’t sure how long Mason had been in Afghanistan. He was a private construction worker.
She said the couple had three sons, ranging in age from toddler through high school.
Funeral plans are not complete, but Lusk said Mason will be buried in Virginia, where he grew up.
The Associated Press reported the transport plane crashed at an air base in eastern Afghanistan, killing six American airmen and five civilians.
The crash happened shortly after midnight Thursday at Jalalabad airfield, 80 miles from the capital, Kabul, said U.S. Air Force Maj. Tony Wickman, spokesman for the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing.
The six U.S. service members who died were the plane’s crew. The passengers were civilian contractors working with NATO’s Resolute Support Mission and were the only passengers on board, he said.
The airmen were assigned to the 774th Expeditionary Air Lift Squadron, part of the 455th, Wickman said.
The Taliban claimed they shot the plane out of the sky, but a U.S. official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to discuss the incident publicly, said there was no indication of hostile fire.
Wickman also dismissed the claim. “It is with high confidence that we can say it does not appear that enemy fire was involved,” he said.
Few other details of the crash were available, but “an investigation into the cause of the accident is underway,” Wickman added.
There are about 1,000 coalition forces in eastern Afghanistan, including U.S. and Polish forces, as well as about 40,000 Afghan troops, according to NATO.
There are also up to 35,000 civilian contractors across the country.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.