- Associated Press - Monday, September 10, 2012

FORT BRAGG, N.C. (AP) — Two pilots assigned to Fort Bragg were killed last week when their helicopter crashed in Afghanistan.

Chief Warrant Officer 2 Jose Montenegro Jr., 31, of San Juan, Texas, and Chief Warrant Officer 2 Thalia Ramirez, 28, of Raeford, N.C., were killed in the crash, officials at Fort Bragg said late Sunday.

The soldiers were assigned to the 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division and were nearing the end of a yearlong deployment, the Army said.

Their OH-58D Kiowa Warrior went down in Afghanistan’s Logar Province on Wednesday. The cause of the crash remains under investigation.

“They were two courageous Air Cavalrymen and outstanding Americans. My deepest condolences go out to both their families. Our hearts, thoughts and prayers are with you,” said Col. T.J. Jamison, commander of the brigade.

Chief Warrant Officer Montenegro joined the Army in 2001 and was on his third deployment to Iraq or Afghanistan. He is survived by his mother, Reyna Torres, and sister, Liliana Montenegro.

Chief Warrant Officer Ramirez originally was from Nairobi, Kenya, and joined the Army in 2003. She was on her second deployment.

She is survived by her husband, Jesse Belbeck, and her mother and father, Justin Ramirez and Alexandra Moll, in Kenya.