HMCS Calgary crew and air detachment remember Stalker 22

Photos by Capt Jeff Klassen

Photos by Capt Jeff Klassen

Captain Jeff Klassen
HMCS Calgary PAO
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On the one year anniversary of the Stalker 22 Cyclone helicopter crash, HMCS Calgary’s embarked Cyclone air detachment hosted a solemn ceremony for the ship’s company on the flight deck to honour the six members who perished. This took place in the Arabian Sea where Calgary is currently operating while deployed on Operation Artemis.

The six Canadian Armed Forces members lost their lives April 29, 2020, when the Cyclone helicopter crashed in the Ionian Sea while operating with HMCS Fredericton.

A memorial for Stalker 22 was also unveiled at 12 Wing Shearwater; however, because of COVID-19 this was mostly presented virtually to ensure physical distancing.

“In Calgary we are blessed in the sense that, while the rest of those mourning Stalker 22 had to do so through physical distancing, we were able to shake hands and hug on a day that is quite difficult for many of the air det and others on board,” said Major Rob McMullen, Calgary’s Air Officer.

The ceremony started at 5 a.m.

“(Today) we remember those who died one year ago in the tragic Cyclone crash in the Ionian Sea. We also gather to honour and uphold the covenant ‘we who serve’ with those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the service of Canada,” said Maj McMullen at the ceremony.

These remarks were followed by a prayer of remembrance by Chaplain Lieutenant (Navy) Wilson Gonese and then a minute of silence. A ceremonial lament was played by bagpiper Sergeant Steven Drinkwalter, and Master Corporal Travis Bliss read the official poem of the Royal Canadian Air Force, High Flight.

The ship’s cooks made a commemorative wreath of bread and, with food-coloring, added the words “Stalker 22”. The ceremony ended with the wreath being cast into the sea followed by a playing of the RCAF March Past.

Throughout the month of April, members of the ship’s company wore Stalker 22 memorial patches on their sleeves to honour the fallen.

Remembering this tragedy was important to the whole ship, but particularly to the air detachment, some of whom personally knew one or more of those who lost their lives, and to the ship’s embarked Naval Tactical Operations Group team, Reef, some of whom served in HMCS Fredericton with the fallen members.

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Those who lost their lives on April 29, 2020:

  • Captain Brenden MacDonald, Pilot, from New Glasgow, NS
  • Captain Kevin Hagen, Pilot, from Nanaimo, BC
  • Captain Maxime Miron-Morin, Air Combat Systems Officer, from Trois-Rivières, QC
  • Master Corporal Matthew Cousins, Airborne Electronic Sensor Operator, from Guelph, ON
  • Sub-Lieutenant Matthew Pyke, Naval Warfare Officer, from Truro, NS
  • Sub-Lieutenant Abbigail Cowbrough, Marine Systems Engineering Officer, from Toronto, ON

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Filed Under: Top Stories

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