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Air Force identifies 3 airmen killed in Clovis crash

CLOVIS – Cannon Air Force Base officials have identified the three airmen killed Tuesday when a single-engine military aircraft crashed near Clovis.

The airmen were assigned to the 318th Special Operations Squadron attached to the 27th Special Operations Wing at Cannon Air Force Base.

They are: Capt. Andrew Becker, 33, of Novi, Mich., a pilot. He is survived by his wife, mother and father.

Capt. Kenneth Dalga, 29, of Goldsboro, N.C., a combat systems officer. He is survived by his wife, son and mother.

First Lt. Frederick Dellecker, 26, of Daytona Beach, Fla., a co-pilot. He is survived by his mother and father.

“Our thoughts and prayers remain with the families and friends of those involved in this tragic accident,” Col. Ben Maitre, the wing commander, said in a written statement issued Thursday.

The three were killed about 6:50 p.m. Tuesday when a U-28A single-engine aircraft crashed in a field southeast of the Clovis Municipal Airport. Air Force investigators remained at the scene late Wednesday inspecting the wreckage.

The cause of the crash remains under investigation, Maitre said. The remains of the three airmen were transported to Albuquerque for autopsy, the statement said.

Maitre discussed few details about the fatal crash at a news conference on Wednesday. The airmen were performing a routine training flight when the plane crashed, he said. Inclement weather did not appear to play a role, he said.

U-28A pilots and crew perform several hundred hours of training flights a year over New Mexico and West Texas, he said.

He described the U-28A as a reconnaissance and surveillance aircraft used for short duration training flights. The aircraft routinely uses Clovis Municipal Airport as a base of operations.

The Eastern New Mexico News reported that the U-28A crash was the first fatality involving a Cannon Air Force Base aircraft since 2002 when an F-16 crashed 50 miles west of Clovis, killing Capt. Benton Zettel, 26, of Englewood, Colo.