Nonprofit to pay death benefits to families of soldiers killed in crash

A nonprofit organization has stepped in to provide death benefits to families of two soldiers killed in an Apache helicopter crash over the weekend.

Due to the government shutdown, the families did not receive the $100,000 death benefit provided for the death of a service member under any circumstance either stateside or overseas. Families typically use the benefit to cover the travel and funeral costs associated with the loss of their loved one. It's not clear whether they will receive the payments from the government if it reopens.

The nonprofit organization Fisher House Foundation, which works with military families, announced it would provide the death benefits to the families of 1st Lt. Clayton R. Cullen, of Indiana, and Chief Warrant Officer 2 Kevin F. Burke, of California, who were both assigned to the 4th Combat Aviation Brigade, 4th Infantry Division.

The soldiers were killed on Saturday morning when their AH64 Apache helicopter crashed during training operations at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California.

In a statement, Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said he had worked with the CEO of the Fisher House Foundation to assist military families during the shutdown.

"The Fisher House generously agreed to offer the families an advance grant until the government can make reimbursements at an appropriate time," the statement read. "The Fisher House will also cover flights, hotels and other incidentals for family members."

Nine days into the 2013 government shutdown, the Pentagon announced a partnership with the Fisher House Foundation in which the charity would pay the $100,000 to families. It was days later that Congress passed a law that would allow the Pentagon to pay families the amount during that specific shutdown. Once that law took effect, Fisher House announced it would give families an additional $25,000.

The Army said the cause of Saturday's helicopter crash is under investigation.

"We are all deeply saddened by the deaths of 1st Lt. Clayton R. Cullen and Chief Warrant Officer 2 Kevin F. Burke," said Col. Scott Gallaway, commander, 4th CAB, 4th Inf. Div. "These gentlemen exemplified all the attributes we expect from our very best leaders. They were selfless, mission-focused, and committed to their teammates. Our heartfelt prayers and condolences go out to Clayton's and Kevin's Families. These two young leaders left an indelible mark on the entire Iron Eagle team. We will forever be better Soldiers, and a more combat-ready aviation brigade, due to their leadership."

ABC News' Luis Martinez contributed to this report.
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