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Hines pilot killed in crash: Military IDs victims of Alaska cargo plane crash

In this undated photo provided by Alaska Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, Major Michael H. Freyholtz, 34, of Hines, Minn., is shown. Freyholtz and 3 other airmen were killed on Wednesday after their C-17 crashed during a training run at an Alaska Air Force base, sending a fireball hundreds of feet into the air, military authorities and witnesses said. AP Photo/Alaska Department of Military and Veterans Affairs

ELMENDORF AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska (AP) -- Military officials on Friday released the names of the four airmen who were killed when their military cargo plane crashed.

The victims were Maj. Michael Freyholtz, 34, of Hines, Minn.; Maj. Aaron Malone, 36, of Anchorage; Capt. Jeffrey Hill, 31, of York, Pa., and Master Sgt. Thomas Cicardo, 47, of Anchorage.

Freyholtz and Malone were pilots assigned to the Alaska Air National Guard's 249th Airlift Squadron. Hill was a pilot assigned to Elmendorf's 517th Airlift Squadron, and Cicardo was the 249th Airlift Squadron loadmaster and affiliated with the Alaska National Guard.

"We come to work with immense sorrow after four of our fellow airmen lost their lives in the C-17 crash," Brig. Gen. Charles E. "Chuck" Foster, 176th Wing commander of the Alaska Air National Guard, said in a prepared statement. "They were more than valued airmen: They were our teammates, friends, family members and fellow Alaskans. We mourn their loss and share the deep sadness of their families."

"These fallen warriors embody the pride and professionalism of American airmen," said Col. John McMullen, 3rd Wing commander. "They selflessly served their country and will be sorely missed by our entire Arctic Warrior family."

The four died Wednesday when the cargo plane crashed about a minute after taking off on a training mission for this weekend's air show at Elmendorf Air Force Base.

The Arctic Thunder air show and open house will run through Sunday. Officials have said more than 170,000 people are expected to attend. Officials debated whether to hold the show after the accident but ultimately decided it would go on.

"We do this to both honor the loss of our four airmen and also to pay respect to all service members who make the ultimate sacrifice for our freedoms," McMullen said.

The crash sent a fireball hundreds of feet into the air and damaged a section of the Alaska Railroad's main track, forcing the railroad to close a stretch of the line until repairs are made. The line is heavily traveled by tourists who now will be transported through the area by motor coach until repairs are made, the railroad said.