1 of soldiers killed in helicopter crash in Mendon was Brockport State graduate

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 22 January 2021 at 3:38 pm

BROCKPORT – One of the three soldiers who died in a helicopter crash on Wednesday in a  training exercise for the National Guard was a 2010 graduate of Brockport State College.

Christian Koch

Christian Koch, 39, of Honeoye Falls also was the a division civilian pilot for the New York State Police.

He and two other National Guard soldiers were killed on Wednesday at about 6:30 when a UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter being flown by Koch crashed in Mendon, Monroe County.

Koch is survived by his wife and four children. He was a 20-year veteran of the New York Army National Guard, and a veteran of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

“The thoughts of the entire SUNY Brockport community are with the family of Chief Warrant Officer Christian Koch ’10 as well as the loved ones of the other soldiers who were killed in this tragedy,” college officials said in a statement. “We are proud of, and grateful for, Chief Warrant Officer Koch’s service to our country. The SUNY Brockport flag has been lowered to half-staff in his memory.”

Chief Warrant Officer 5 Steven Skoda of Rochester and Chief Warrant Officer 2 Daniel Prial of Rochester also died in the crash. Skoda, 54, was a 35-year veteran of the Army and the New York Army National Guard.

Prial, 30, served in the Army after earning a commission at the United States Military Academy at West Point in 2012. He was deployed to Afghanistan in 2014 and 2015 with the 82nd Airborne Division.

Koch also had been a pilot with the State Police since March 2016. In addition to a pilot and crew member on many rescue and search missions, Koch also served as a Division Unit Trainer, instrumental in the last year conducting annual training for Division pilots, the State Police said.

He was recently honored by the Red Cross of Western New York for his role in the June 2020 rescue of an injured 11-year-old boy in Wyoming County. Along with first responders on the ground, and a State Police crew in the air, the boy was hoisted more than 100 feet from a gorge and taken for medical care.

“The New York State Police thank him for his service to his country, and to the people of the State of New York,” said Kevin P. Bruen, Acting Superintendent for the State Police.