28-Jun-2016 Source: Australian Army
The Australian Army recently marked the 20th anniversary of the 1996 Black Hawk accident that took the lives of 18 Army personnel, with commemorative services held around Australia.
On the evening of 12 June, 1996, two Australian Army Black Hawk helicopters collided in the air during a night training exercise near Townsville.
The first Black Hawk crashed immediately, killing 12 personnel on board. The second Black Hawk was able to make a crash landing, but unfortunately caught fire and another six Army personnel were killed. Twelve others were injured.
The Chief of Army, Lieutenant General Angus Campbell, DSC, AM, said that the tragedy was felt by the Australian Defence Force and the wider community, who joined together to honour the service and memory of those who died on duty.
“The loss of 18 soldiers was the most significant peacetime disaster to strike the Australian Army and the largest single loss of life for Defence since the 1964 HMAS Voyager disaster,” Lieutenant General Campbell said.
“We commemorate the lives and service of our soldiers who were lost in 1996. They continue to be missed by their families, mates and colleagues.
Across the nation, these services are a reminder that our soldiers will not be forgotten. We also pay tribute to and thank the courageous people who worked to tend to the injured on that fateful night.”
Fifteen members of the Perth-based Special Air Service Regiment (SASR) and three members of the Townsville-based 5th Aviation Regiment lost their lives in the accident.
A public commemoration service was held at the Black Hawk Memorial in the Townsville Palmetum. The Chief of Army, Special Operations Commander Australia, Major General Jeff Sengelman, DSC, AM, CSC, and Commander Forces Command, Major General Gus Gilmore, AO, DSC, joined several personnel injured in the accident and family members of those killed at the Townsville service.
Services were also held in Canberra, Sydney and at Campbell Barracks in Perth.