Three Air National Guard members killed in shock crash as ‘plane was trying to return to nearby airport’

THREE members of Tennessee’s Air National Guard died in an airplane crash near Warren County Memorial Airport this week, officials announced Wednesday.

The victims have been identified as Lt. Col. Shelli Huether, Capt. Jessica Wright and Senior Master Sgt. Scott Bumpus, the National Guard announced.

Huether served as the director of operations for the 118th Wing’s Intelligence Support Squadron, while Wright served as its assistant director. Bumpus served as chief of current operations for the 236th Intelligence Squadron.

“Words can not begin to explain the shock, grief, pain and dismay we feel having lost three remarkable members of our Guard family,” said Col. Todd Wiles, commander of the 118th Wing.

He added: “All three were dedicated to the service of our nation. Their families are in our hearts and our prayers.”

A witness told local outlet WSMV that the plane, a Piper PA 28, was trying to return to the airport Tuesday before it crashed.

The plane was registered to the non-profit Lebanon Flying Club and the NTSB is still in the preliminary stages of its investigation into what caused the crash, the outlet reported.

The Air National Guard’s 188th Wing posted a touching tribute honoring the soldiers to Facebook.

“Our hearts are breaking today. Yesterday three of our members passed away when the small aircraft they were flying crashed in McMinnville, Tennessee,” the post reads.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to their families during this very difficult time.”

Commenters on the Facebook post were quick to praise the airmen for their service and character.

“Lt. Col. Huether was one of the nicest people in and out of uniform. I had the pleasure to be in her presence in uniform and in my civilian job. Heart goes out to their family and friends this is a very sad incident. God bless you all during this terrible time,” one commenter wrote.

Another wrote: “Shelli was my neighbor and closest friend during nav school. She was the nicest, sweetest person and she will be sorely missed.”

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