Soldiers die in crash: Among those in helicopter accident, Capt. Anne Rockeman Montgomery, had ties in western ND
Capt. Anne Rockeman Montgomery, a former McKenzie County resident, died Monday doing what she loved -- flying, her family said Wednesday.
Her uncle, Keith Rockeman, who lives near Grassy Butte, said there is a bit of comfort in knowing that.
Rockeman Montgomery, 25, was among four Army aviator soldiers killed in a crash Monday evening involving two helicopters at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington, according to a press release from JBLM Public Affairs Office.
She has family scattered across the country, including Richardton.
"Knowing she was doing what she loved to do and the fact that she was serving her country, that is a big thing for us, too," Keith Rockeman said.
Colorado native Chief Warrant Officer Three Frank A. Buoniconti, 36; Alaska native Chief Warrant Officer Three Joseph S. Satterfield, 32; and Alabama native Chief Warrant Officer Two Lucas Daniel Sigfrid, 32, also died in the crash, according to the press release.
Rockeman Montgomery, whose family members refer to her as "Annie," was born in Honduras and grew up around the world, her parents, Kurt and Kathleen Rockeman stated in an email. Besides Watford City, she also resided in Somalia, Malawi and Ethiopia, to name a few places, her parents said.
"She was dearly loved and will be deeply missed," they wrote in the email.
Jessica Rockeman, a Richardton resident and in-law, said Rockeman Montgomery was fluent in Spanish and a "brilliant soul."
"Annie was a fierce, funny woman," she said. "We had the same taste in nerdy, funny movies and comic books."
Her parents and two brothers, Gus and Christian, have been in Nairobi, Kenya, for about a year, said Nikki McAlpin, a family friend from Grassy Butte.
"Right now, they're stunned," she added.
Rockeman Montgomery's sister, Geneva, left Wednesday to join her family, relatives said.
Rockeman Montgomery always felt at home in North Dakota, Keith Rockeman said.
"This was their home-base," he said.
Sen. Kent Conrad nominated her among six North Dakota students to attend a service academy, according to a 2003 press release.
It had information from an essay Rockeman Montgomery submitted. In it she wrote, "One of my strongest and earliest wishes has been to show the world how I see my country, a nation among nations with an intangible something that sets it apart, a country I have seen from afar as the best. My country, though sometimes appearing rough and hard, was still the best I knew from my varied childhood. I want to be a soldier to help represent and communicate that reality."
She attended the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., and majored in foreign languages, according to her parents' email.
Upon graduating from West Point in 2008, Rockeman Montgomery was assigned to aviation -- "her passion," according to her parents' email.
She trained at Fort Rucker, Ala., where she met and married fellow Army pilot Aaron "Monty" Montgomery.
Keith Rockeman last saw his niece during Thanksgiving in Minneapolis.
"We had a really, really nice time," he said.
Keith Rockeman described her as having a positive attitude and being full of energy.
"She was pretty adventurous and really into trying a lot of new things when she could," he said. "She was really upbeat about things.
"She loved life and lived it to the fullest."
Her family played a big role in her life, Keith Rockeman said.
"She was just a very wonderful, warm, loving young lady is what she was," he said.
A love of aviation ran in the family, Keith Rockeman said.
"I think she kind of had caught that bug from her grandpa, my dad," he said. "He'd been a pilot in civil air patrol here in North Dakota for quite a number of years back in the '50s and early '60s."
The helicopters involved in the crash were on a routine night training flight, according to the JBLM press release. The cause of the accident is being investigated, according the release.
It is unclear which soldiers piloted the helicopters.
Lt. Col. Gary Dangerfield, JBLM public affairs officer, said it could take up to a year to conclude the investigation and no further information could be released Wednesday.
"This is a very devastating time for us with the loss of those four great Americans... but we'll move forward and honor their spirits," he said.