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Minnesota National Guard
Army pilot who grew up in Minnesota killed in Afghanistan

Another Minnesota family is mourning the loss of a Soldier Last Friday, when a Chinook helicopter crashed in Afghanistan, 10 troops were killed Among them was St Paul native Eric Totten
St Paul, Minn - Eric Totten grew up in St Paul in the Frogtown neighborhood before his family moved to Golden Valley After high school, though, the Army was Totten's home He enlisted in 1993, shortly after graduating Family members say Totten wanted to do something with his life after losing a close friend to drugs and suicide

Totten, had a great interest in flying He became a CH-47 Chinook helicopter pilot, and his colleagues say he was good

The Chinook is huge; it looks like a bus with huge rotors over the front and back ends It weighs almost 12 tons empty and can carry three dozen troops, including the crew

Calvin Dockery is also a Chinook pilot He served with Totten in Afghanistan for six months "Eric was just so calm all the time He just never seemed like he got excited, I guess He was very level-headed, a really intelligent guy I think the combination of the those things made him a great pilot," according to Dockery

Totten was on his second tour of duty in Afghanistan when he died His most recent deployment was in February

Totten was part off the flight crew on the Chinook helicopter that went down last Friday The military says the 10 Soldiers on board died when the copter fell into a ravine during a mountaintop landing in Kunar Province

Eric was just so calm all the time He was very level-headed, a really intelligent guy I think the combination of the those things made him a great pilot

- Calvin Dockery, Chinook pilot

As one member of the small group of pilots who fly Chinooks, Dockery says news of the crash got his attention right away

"You always kind of assume you may know someone in the Chinook world, but when you finally hear that it is someone you know, someone you really like, it's even worse news It's one of those hard-to-grasp things I've lost several friends now in action I'm not saying I'm getting used to it, but it's not as large a shock as it used to be, I guess," Dockery said

Dockery first met Totten about five years ago when his company joined Totten's unit at Fort Campbell, Kentucky Dockery says when he arrived, Totten was welcoming and showed him around the base Dockery says he remembers Totten as a nice guy

"He never seemed to ever get mad or upset," he said "It seems like someone's always mad in the Army But he was just always so nice Honestly, you always hear the cliche, 'I don't remember him saying a bad thing about anybody' I really don't remember Eric ever saying anything bad"

Dockery is sending condolences to Totten's family Eric Totten died less than a week shy of his 35th birthday He leaves behind a stepmother in Texas and five older brothers and sisters

by Toni Randolph, Minnesota Public Radio




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