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Helicopters heard in PA were from JBLM

July 12th, 2013 - 2:45pm

(Port Angeles) -- The five military helicopters heard in the Port Angeles area last night were Army choppers from Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

Clallam County Sheriff Bill Benedict confirmed after a phone call with Army officials today that the three C-H-47 Chinooks and two AH-64 Apaches were on an exercise from the Gray Army Airfield at J-B-L-M.

The sheriff says local authorities did not receive advance notice about the activity.

Benedict says the copters were from a special operations group on an exercise that entailed them landing at the Coast Guard Air Station at Ediz Hook, probably to refuel.

The sheriff says the copters made multiple approaches for landings at Ediz Hook.

Benedict says dispatchers also received reports of the same helicopters flying in the Sequim area near River Road and up the Dungeness River.

Benedict adds the U-S Army is prohibited by law from engaging in surveillance or participating in police action in the United States.

As a sheriff, Benedict says he has never seen any indication that they have not followed this rule. He adds they were truly on a training mission, probably needing some night flight time and they just forgot to tell us.

Benedict, a retired Naval fighter pilot, says he also told the operations officer that he didn't think it was a good idea to fly over heavily populated areas in a circular pattern.

He thinks they will avoid the practice in the future.

The local PENCOM dispatch center received numerous calls last night about the helicopter activity.

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