March 31, 2023

Senator Schmitt Statement on Missouri Military Members Who Passed Away in Helicopter Accident

WASHINGTON – Today, the Army released the names of the nine servicemembers who were tragically killed in a helicopter accident on Wednesday, March 29th, which includes two servicemembers from Missouri. Senator Eric Schmitt released the following statement on the tragic deaths of Chief Warrant Officer 2 Rusten Smith, of Rolla, Missouri and Chief Warrant Officer 2 Zachary Esparza of Jackson, Missouri:

“The men and women who serve in our armed forces are among the bravest and most selfless individuals our nation has to offer. Wednesday was truly a tragic day, as nine servicemembers were killed in a helicopter accident near Fort Campbell, Kentucky. Among those nine were two Missourians – Chief Warrant Officer 2 Rusten Smith and Chief Warrant Officer 2 Zachary Esparza. Service to country and to fellow man should be extolled and honored, and both Smith and Esparza lost their lives in noble pursuit of both. My thoughts and prayers go out to their families and loved ones.”


  • Born in Florida, on August 7, 1990, Rusten Smith enlisted in the Army from Rolla, Missouri in 2012. Smith deployed twice to Afghanistan, first in 2013 in support of the International Security Assistance Force and again from 2018-2019 in support of Resolute Support Mission.
  • Born in Texas on September 26,1986, Zachary Esparza enlisted in the Army from Jackson, Missouri in 2010. Esparza deployed to Afghanistan in support of International Security Assistance Course from 2013 to 2014 and served 10 months in Egypt as part of Task Force Sinai. He also served two overseas tours in Japan and Hawaii.
  • Both men were members of the 101st Airborne.