A Clay County man died in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan earlier this week.
AAR Airlift Spokesman Chris Mason confirmed to The Brazil Times Wednesday that Michael Clawson, 51, Brazil, was one of three crewmembers killed in the accident, which took place in the Helmand Province of Afghanistan, at approximately 10:45 a.m., local time, Jan. 16.
According to reports, AAR Airlift was in Afghanistan doing work for the United States Department of Defense. AAR Airlift is a unit of AAR Corp., based in Wood Dale, Ill.
Clawson and his family attended the St. Joseph's University Parish in Terre Haute.
According to Father John Bamman, OFM CONV., Clawson leaves behind his wife and five children.
Bamman said he had spoken with the family just hours before the news was released.
"The night before this happened, we were enjoying each other's presence after the 7 p.m. mass, just laughing and having a great time," Bamman said. "(The children) even talked to their dad after they got home from mass.
"Now, they're just trying to re-balance everything. It's such a shock ... such a great family. I've known them over the past six months or so since they entered the church. If you can gauge parents by the generosity of their kids, this family is golden. They're just a great family."
According to the AAR Airlift release, the company is a "provider of expeditionary airlift services and specialized aircraft modifications for defense and humanitarian relief operations. Under current contracts, the company provides airlift for the Department of Defense (DoD) in three regions around the world, using both fixed-wing aircraft and rotary-wing aircraft to transport personnel, supplies and mail."
The release further stated there were no passengers aboard the aircraft at the time of the incident.
The cause of the accident, according to the release, is currently unknown.
"They're just kind of waiting for an official word," Bamman said.
Funeral arrangements, which will be conducted by Callahan and Hughes Funeral Home, Terre Haute, are pending.