PARWAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan – May 5 marked five years since the crew aboard a CH-47 Chinook helicopter, call sign Colossal 31, were killed when their aircraft went down in Kunar province while conducting combat operations in 2006.
The six aviators were all members of Company B, 3rd Battalion, 10th Aviation Regiment, 10th Mountain Division (LI), of Fort Drum, N.Y.
Since the original Company B, 3rd Battalion, 10th Aviation Regiment, was transferred and attached to another task force in March, Company B, 1st Battalion, 168th Aviation Regiment, a National Guard unit from Washington state, attached to 3rd Battalion, 10th Aviation Regiment, Task Force Phoenix, 10th Combat Aviation Brigade, 10th Mountain Division, TF Falcon, was asked if they would dedicate a flight May 5 from Bagram Air field, Afghanistan, to honor those who gave their lives five years ago.
The six aviators who were lost that day were U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer 3 Eric W. Totten, U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer 2 Christopher B. Donaldson, U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Christopher T. Howick, U.S. Army Sgt. Bryan A. Brewster, U.S. Army Sgt. John C. Griffith, and U.S. Army Sgt. Jeffery S. Wiekamp.
U.S. Army Chaplain (Capt.) Robert Hearon, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3rd Battalion, 10th Aviation Regiment, TF Phoenix, 10th CAB, 10th Mountain Division, TF Falcon, conducted a moment of silence in front of the CH-47 conducting the Colossal 31 dedication flight.
“I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the men of Colossal 31,” said U.S. Army Chaplain (Capt.) Robert Hearon, TF Phoenix chaplain from Greenville, S.C., “Their unfortunate passing is a reminder to us all of the price that’s paid for freedom. May their memories live on forever, and may their families be blessed!”
Those who were in 10th CAB during the event expressed varying emotions. Many who were close to those on Colossal 31 found it difficult to find the words to express themselves.
“I find myself trying not to think of the loss that was sustained five years ago,” said U.S. Army First Sgt. William Howard, the current first sergeant of Co. B “Colossal”, 3rd Battalion, 10th Aviation Regiment, which is currently attached to TF Shooter, 10th CAB, 10th Mountain Division, TF Falcon, “For those of us who knew them we’ll remember them in our own way.”
Company B, 3rd Battalion, 10th Aviation Regiment does something each year to honor those who have fallen, said Howard. This year, the unit is providing a tribute to each fallen aviator by painting each name on a Chinook.
“If you were to walk the “Colossal” flight line here at [Forward Operating Base] Fenty, you [would] find that every aircraft is emblazoned with the red and white of the U.S. cavalry flag,” said Howard, “By [May 5], each flag will have [the name of] one of the six soldiers from Colossal 31 painted in the white portion of the flag on every aircraft.”
Memorial ceremonies are meant to honor the sacrifices of the fallen and their Families, said U.S. Army Command Sgt. Maj. Ronald Dvorsky, command sergeant major of TF Phoenix, 10th CAB, 10th Mountain Division, TF Falcon.
“This year, not unlike each year since the event, we honor those soldiers and families who provided the ultimate sacrifice to their country,” said Dvorsky, of Trumbull, Conn., “The least we can do to recognize our fallen aviators is take a few moments out of our day to remember those who have given their lives to the unit and country.”
Photo - U.S. Army Chaplain (Capt.) Robert Hearon, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3rd Battalion, 10th Aviation Regiment, Task Force Phoenix, 10th Combat Aviation Brigade, 10th Mountain Division, TF Falcon, conducted a moment of silence in front of the CH-47 Chinook helicopter whose crew dedicated their flight May 5 to Colossal 31, the call sign of the crew of six who were killed May 5, 2006. Hearon is a native of Greenville, S.C. (Photo by:
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