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Mississippi National Guardsmen killed in helicopter crash identified

The two Mississippi National Guardsmen who died after the helicopter they were in crashed Friday afternoon have been identified. 

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves identified the men as Chief Warrant Officer 4 Bryan Andrew Zemek, 36, and Chief Warrant Officer 4 Derek Joshua Abbott, 42, in a statement on social media

Chief Warrant Officer 4 Bryan Andrew Zemek. Mississippi National Guard

Zemek served in the Alpha Company 1st Battalion, 149th Aviation Regiment, as an AH-64 Delta Apache standardization instructor pilot, while Abbott was in Delta Company of the 2nd Battalion, 151st Lakota Medical Evacuation unit, serving as a maintenance test pilot. 

The men were conducting a routine training flight in an AH-64 Apache helicopter when the aircraft crashed n a wooded area near Booneville, Mississippi, around 2 p.m. local time on Friday, Reeves said.

Chief Warrant Officer 4 Derek Joshua Abbott. Mississippi National Guard

"I want to extend my deepest condolences to the families and friends of our fallen soldiers. We will always remember these dedicated Soldiers for their honorable service, and we grieve with the families during this tragic time," Reeves said on social media. "With a heavy heart, let us always remember it is through that bravery and courage of the men and women in our armed forces that we are able to retain the freedoms we hold dear. Today and every day, let us express our thanks and gratitude to those who have and continue to put on the uniform in defense of our state and nation." 

Safety crews were working with local authorities at the scene of the crash. The crash will be investigated, the Mississippi National Guard said in a news release. 

Booneville is located in the northeast corner of the state near the Alabama and Tennessee borders.

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