The pilot killed in a helicopter crash in Williamsburg, Va. on Sunday was a decorated Vietnam War veteran who lived in the Mount Vernon area.
Henry E. Schwarz, a resident of the Southwood neighborhood, was officially identified Wednesday as the pilot of the Robinson R44 helicopter that slammed into a Williamsburg apartment complex around 4:30 p.m. on Sunday, according to the Williamsburg Yorktown Daily.
Jean Lochak Danylko, 91, a resident of the apartment complex, was also killed in the crash. No other residents were injured, and Schwarz was the only person aboard the helicopter, according to the Virginia Gazette.
Investigators are still looking into what caused the crash, which happened just minutes after Schwarz had taken off from a nearby airport.
Schwarz, 85, had lived with his wife in Southwood for many years, according to a neighbor.
“He was a very nice man,” said Vicki Koestler.
In Vietnam, Schwarz earned a Distinguished Flying Cross in Vietnam for heroism “above and beyond the call of duty” during a 1967 battle, according to the Army. Flying a UH-1D Huey, Schwarz helped lead an effort to reinforce an ambushed convoy, landing in an area under fire and directing other choppers to safe landing points.
“On approach into the landing zone, intense enemy fire was received. Despite the continued enemy fire, Major Schwarz hovered his aircraft in the landing zone area for several minutes in order to direct succeeding ships into safe landing points,” Schwarz’s DFC reads. “Upon completion of the mission, he volunteered to remain in the objectives area as a command and control ship for the ground commander.”
Schwarz is on the Wall of Honor at the Smithsonian National Air and Space museum, and served as the president of the Virginia Helicopter Association at the time of his death, according to news reports.