- Associated Press - Thursday, March 16, 2017

CLOVIS, N.M. (AP) - The Air Force on Thursday released the identities of three service members killed Tuesday night in the crash of a reconnaissance and surveillance plane during a training flight in eastern New Mexico.

Cannon Air Force Base officials say the 33-year-old pilot, Capt. Andrew Becker from Novi, Michigan, 29-year-old Capt. Kenneth Dalga from Goldsboro, North Carolina, and 26-year-old co-pilot, 1st Lt. Frederick Dellecker from Daytona Beach, Florida, were killed.

All three were assigned to the 318th Special Operations Squadron at Cannon.

Dalga was a combat systems officer, a husband and a father. Becker also was married, and Dellecker is survived by his mother and father.

Col. Ben Maitre, commander of the 27th Special Operations Wing, said the unit’s thoughts and prayers are with families and friends of those killed. He said the community has been hit hard by the tragedy.

“Our focus is to also support our larger Air Commando community as we prioritize safe mission accomplishment in both our training and operational commitments,” Maitre said in a statement issued Thursday.

U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce, R-New Mexico, was among those to offer his condolences to the Cannon and Clovis community.

“As a former Air Force pilot, I too have felt the sorrow of losing a fellow airman and friend. Let us honor and remember the contributions these fine airmen made in serving our country,” Pearce said.

The cause of the single-engine U-28A’s crash near the Clovis Municipal Airport is under investigation, and officials have said there was no indication of any problems with the plane before it went down in a field about 3 miles from the base.

Investigators were combing over the wreckage and reviewing everything from documents related to the preparation of the training flight to maintenance records for the plane.

Maitre described the U-28A as reliable, saying that type of aircraft is used for thousands of hours a year and that crew members fly hundreds of hours annually to maintain their proficiency with the plane and its systems.

Flights by the 318th squadron were put on hold following the crash, and base officials said Thursday that they did not know when they would resume.

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A previous version of this story corrected the spelling of Maitre.

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