**FILE** U.S. soldiers from the 2nd Brigade, 87th Infantry Regiment, 10th Mountain Division, secure the area after exiting a Chinook helicopter, Helmand Province, southern Afghanistan, on June 18, 2006. Insurgents shot down on Aug. 6, 2011, a U.S. military helicopter similar to this one shown during fighting in eastern Afghanistan, killing 30 Americans, most of them belonging to the same elite Navy SEALs unit that killed Osama bin Laden, as well as seven Afghan commandos, U.S. officials said. (Associated Press)
The Army talked about but never followed through on any plan to install voice and flight data recorders on one of its main war machines, the CH-47D Chinook helicopter — such as the one that was shot down in Afghanistan in 2011, killing all 30 U.S. service members onboard, including 22 members of SEAL Team 6.
The lack of these basic, post-accident investigative tools has stirred consternation among some families of the SEALs and other troops who perished in the crash, which was caused by a Taliban rocket-propelled grenade.
The top officer who investigated the crash called the lack of voice/flight data “critical.”
To some families, the issue became a mystery driven by the military’s own investigative file. It contains the transcript of an interview with an Army officer who led a post-crash salvage mission into the Tangi Valley. He said he was briefed to remove the flight recorder, or black box, but could not gain access to the smoldering cockpit.
To some parents of the fallen, it raised suspicions: If U.S. Central Command could not find the black box, what other gaps exist in the investigation?