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South Florida Airman Killed In Colombian Plane Crash

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Master Sgt. Martin Gonzales  (Source: U.S. Air Force)

Master Sgt. Martin Gonzales (Source: U.S. Air Force)

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MIAMI (CBSMiami/AP) — The U.S. airman killed in a plane crash in Colombia over the weekend was from Miramar.

Master Sgt. Martin Gonzales, 39, was one of four people who died when the twin-engine turboprop plane went down near the Panamanian border on Saturday.

“The loss and pain of losing my husband, MSgt Martin Gonzales is indescribable. He passed away very tragically while proudly serving for the US Air Force. He loved his job and was willing to risk his own life for others,” said Gonzalez’s wife in a statement. “He leaves behind two beautiful children, Nathan 7 and Kaitlyn 4. This is a very difficult time for our family. I still can’t believe the plane my husband was in crashed and took his life. All I have left are memories of him. It’s difficult to know that I will never see or hear his voice again. To me, he is an American hero! “

The plane was tracking a suspected smuggling vessel at the time of the crash.

“He was a very patriotic person who believed very deeply in his duties and he believed very deeply in this mission,” said Lt. Cmdr Ron Flanders with the U.S. Southern Command.  “And we are all saddened by his loss.”

Also killed were two American defense contractors and Panamanian National Air-Naval Service Lt. Elroy Nunez.

“Our hearts remain with the families of the men who lost their lives in this tragic crash,” said Gen. John Kelly, SOUTHCOM commander. “It is a terrible tragedy, but we remain committed to finding out what happened and hopefully bring some sort of peace to the families.”

Two other U.S. contractors on the plane who were rescued by Colombian military forces remain in stable condition in a hospital in Bogota.

The crash is being investigated.

“The one thing that is pretty evident at this point is that the plane was not shot down, but we are trying to piece that together right now,” said Lt. Cmdr. Flanders.

(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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