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Investigators examine a single-engine Piper that crashed in a field off Airport Lake Road on Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2020, near Warren County Memorial Airport in McMinnville, Tenn. All three occupants were killed. (James Clark/Southern Standard via AP)

MCMINNVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Three people killed in a small plane crash near a Tennessee airport were National Guard members, an official said Wednesday.

Tennessee National Guard spokesman Chris Messina said the identities of the three killed in the plane crash would be released later Wednesday. Messina said the Guard members were on leave at the time of the crash.

The Federal Aviation Administration said the three were aboard a single-engine Piper PA-28 airplane that crashed Tuesday near Warren County Memorial Airport in McMinnville, which is northeast of Nashville.

The plane took off from the airport and crashed in a nearby field, National Transportation Safety Board spokesman Peter Knudson said. A witness told investigators that the plane appeared to be trying to return to the airport when it crashed.

Warren County Sheriff Tommy Myers told the Southern Standard earlier that the two women and one man were members of the military and didn't live in town.

Jerry Wiser was mowing his field when he heard a loud crash behind him.

"When I turned around there was a plane sitting right behind me. I didn't expect to see that at all," he said.

Wiser and another person nearby called authorities and rushed to the smoking wreckage to try to help, he said.

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