CW3 Michael Wells of Slidell, Louisiana was a reservist in the Louisiana Army National Guard and working as a commercial helicopter pilot servicing the oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico. In February, 2004 he was deployed to Camp Anaconda in Balad, Iraq. On September 21, 2004, as the Blackhawk helicopter he was piloting had just taken off, mechanical failure caused the aircraft to be uncontrollable.
The tail section hit the ground, breaking off the tail of the aircraft. Then the helicopter, still airborne, rolled twice and spun around 180 degrees coming to rest. The Blackhawk was unidentifiable by military personnel searching for the wreckage.