From USNA Virtual Memorial Hall

Kelly Mackey '90

Date of birth: July 1, 1967

Date of death: March 6, 1998

Age: 30

Lucky Bag

1990 Mackey LB.jpg


From the AP News Archive on March 7, 1998:

CRESTLINE, Calif. (AP) _ A Navy crew on Saturday retrieved the bodies of five people aboard a helicopter that crashed in the snow-packed San Bernardino Mountains.

The SH-60B Seahawk was on a training mission from North Island Naval Air Station in San Diego to Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas when it vanished from radar screens Friday afternoon, said Navy Lt. j.g. Charlie Brown. All aboard were killed.

The Navy identified them as: Lt. Kelly E. Mackey, 30, of San Jose, Calif.; Lt. John Lee, 28, of Oceanside, N.Y.; Lt. j.g. Kent E. Koontz, 29, of Nashville, Tenn.; Lt. Donald M. Hillegas, 25, of Raleigh, N.C., and Daniel R. Garber, a 24-year-old aviation anti-submarine warfare operator third class from Perry, Iowa.

The Navy ground team battled blustery wind, thick woods and steep, icy terrain Saturday to bring the bodies down to the nearest road.

Civilian authorities said the pilot had reported icy rotor blades shortly before he went down in fog. "We talked to him at 1,500 feet above ground and the aircraft was in control and not disabled, controller Michael Harne told The Press-Enterprise in Riverside. "He said, 'We are taking on ice' and he was going to descend. There was no panic.

Searchers combed canyons and mountaintops for five hours before finding the wreck on 5,000-foot Monument Peak southwest of Lake Silverwood, about 60 miles east of Los Angeles. A U.S. Customs helicopter using night vision gear spotted the helicopter, said Cindy Beavers, spokeswoman for the San Bernardino County sheriff.

The chopper was assigned to Helicopter Anti-submarine Squadron Light-47. Besides submarine hunting, the Seahawks are used for reconnaissance and search duties.


SH-60B "Seahawk" of Light Helicopter Antisubmarine Squadron 47 crashed during a flight from its home base at Naval Air Station North Island, California. The five occupants: LT Kelly Mackey, LT John Lee, LTJG Donald Hillegas, LTJG Kent Koontz, and AW3 Daniel Garber, were killed. 6 Mar. 1998.


From the June 1998 issue of Shipmate:

Lieutenant Kelly Eugene Mackey, USN died on 6 March 1998, in a helicopter crash in the Silver Lake region of San Bernandino, CA. He was a passenger on board a SH-60B helicopter conducting a training flight from Naval Air Station North Island, CA to Nellis Air Force Base, NV. Four other crew members were killed in the crash.

Lieutenant Mackey was born on 1 July 1967 to Mr and Mrs. Jed (Jacqueline) Mackey. During his 30 years, Mackey inspired and touched the lives of many. On 25 July 1992, he was joined in holy matrimony to Kelly Sonja Watson. In this union, two sons were born, Kendall Edward, four years old, and Konnor Evan, eight months old.

Lieutenant Mackey graduated from Yerba Buena High School in San Jose, CA. Upon graduation, Mackey reported to the Naval Academy Preparatory School, from which he received a Presidential appointment to the Naval Academy. At the Naval Academy, Mackey lettered on the 150 pound football team and was named to the all conference team. He graduated from the Naval Academy on 30 May 1990 and reported to Naval Air Station, Pensacola, FL for pilot flight training. He received his cherished Navy Wings of Gold in April 1994.

He then reported to Helicopter Anti-submarine Squadron Light (HSL) 41 for flight training in the SH-60B aircraft. He subsequently reported to HSL- 47 Saber Hawks. While with HSL-47, he completed extended deployments to the Western Pacific, Arabian Gulf and the Caribbean. Mackey earned recognition as one the first five pilots certified Night Vision Goggle (NVG) Instructor Pilots. For his outstanding performance at HSL-47, Mackey was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal. Mackey was selected to return to the Naval Academy for the prestigious post-graduate/ company officer program.

Lieutenant Mackey leaves many cherished memories with his loving and devoted wife, two sons, his mother and father; grandfather Wilmer Mackey, Sr; families of his two sisters Sgt. Tamara "Jeffrey" Scott, USA and Sgt. Michele "Wayne" Aragon, USA; two brother-cousins, Detrick Warner and Lloyd Pierce, and a host of other special friends and relatives.

A trust fund in Mackey's name has been estab- lished for his sons. Contributions may be sent to LT Kelly E. Mackey Tmst Fund, Acct# 0119953107, NFCU, PO Box 3100, Mertifield, VA 22119-3100,

Related Articles

Michael Hillegas '94 was also lost in this crash.

Class of 1990

Kelly is one of 3 members of the Class of 1990 on Virtual Memorial Hall.