Just before leaving for his fourth tour of duty last month, Major Steve Reich married Panama City native, Jill Blue. They met and fell in love while he was stationed in Georgia.
A Reich family spokesman says everybody that met the Army pilot's future wife, Jill Blue, knew he had found the love of his life, but their life together was tragically cut short just three months after they became man and wife.
They were special operators with a special mission to provide reinforcement to ground troops as part of the "Spring Offensive" in Kunar, Afghanistan, but their mission came to a tragic end before they even arrived.
"At this point, we have recovered all 16 bodies of those servicemen who were on board the MH-47 helicopter that crashed on Tuesday. Positive identification and family notification are underway and expected to be completed soon," says Lt. Gen. James Conway of Joint Chiefs of Staff.
The Pentagon says all the soldiers were members of special operations units, including 34-year-old Steve Reich who may have piloted the helicopter.
On March 19 Reich married Panama City native Jill Blue in Blue Mountain, Florida. They were an all-American couple. Blue is a lawyer and worked with the Panama City law firm Burke, Blue, Hutchinson and Walters. Reich was a former Team USA baseball player and served as a company commander in the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, a unit known as "The Knightstalkers."
In Reich's hometown newspaper his friends are quoted saying the Army pilot never expressed a single doubt about the American mission in Afghanistan. An Army spokesman says Reich recently told his family, “I love my wife and I love the men under my command.”
The family of Jill Blue has declined to comment at this time. The fatal crash Tuesday night is the deadliest incident for American troops in Afghanistan since fighting began in that country.