Funeral scheduled for National Guard serviceman killed in helicopter crash

Chief Warrant Officers II Charles Nord (left) and James Rogers Junior (right), and Sergeant Kort Plantenberg (middle) were identified Saturday as the three soldiers killed in Thursday's National Guard helicopter crash. (Minnesota National Guard / Facebook)

Military investigators have now removed the wreckage of a downed Black Hawk helicopter from the Stearns County field where it crashed last week.

There is still no word as to what caused the crash that claimed the lives of three National Guard servicemen.

The investigation continues as the soldier’s families prepare for funerals in the coming days, the first of which is scheduled for Thursday.

Family, friends and fellow soldiers will honor the life of Warrant Officer Candidate Kort Plantenberg with an afternoon service in Collegeville.

Two more goodbyes will follow in short order to honor the other two men as well.

“To have this happen is a terrible tragedy. Terrible,” said Mitchel Zaleski, the president of the Student Veterans of America Chapter at St. Cloud Technical and Community College.

“We’re here for you and understand what you are going through,” Zaleski added.

Zaleski and other group members explained they have had their hearts broken by the loss of their fellow brothers and sisters. So, when last week’s Black Hawk tragedy unfolded practically in their backyard, they felt compelled to act.

“I actually sat there and cried,” said Jessica Busby, of the SVA.

Tuesday, the SVA held a short memorial for the three National Guard servicemen and asked staff and fellow students to sign these poster boards for the families of Charlie Nord, Kort Plantenberg and James Rogers, Jr.

“Just knowing what these family members and friends and the unit is going through is, it brings up old feelings. Not just for myself, but everyone at SVA,” she added.

In the days that have followed the maintenance test flight mishap, military investigators have tried to figure out what went wrong.

Neighbors near the crash site in Stearns County told FOX 9 the chopper’s wreckage was removed from the frigid and snowy tree line near Kimball Monday.

A pair of memorials erected close by served as tributes and more poured in.

Nord’s family launched an online GoFundMe page that quickly raised more than $20,000 for the 30-year-old Chief Warrant Officer 2, who leaves behind a wife, young daughter and a son on the way.

Sunday, U.S. Bank Stadium and the Vikings paid their respects for the three heroes with a moment of silence. The three service members had recently returned from a Middle East deployment.