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Military tragedy remembered in Townsville

Published: (Updated: ) in Australian News by .

Today marks 24 years since the worst peacetime loss of life for the Australian Defence Force, when 18 soldiers were killed and 12 were injured in a night-time counter-terrorism training exercise.

Today marks 24 years since the worst peacetime loss of life for the Australian Defence Force, when 18 soldiers were killed and 12 were injured in a night-time counter-terrorism training exercise.

Soldiers from Army's 5th Aviation Regiment, alongside members of the Perth-based Special Air Service Regiment (SASR), were conducting a six-aircraft formation when two collided mid-air.

"They were doing a special forces insertion mission … to land a team of special forces via fast rope onto a target," 5th Aviation Regiment commanding officer Lieutenant Colonel Jamie Martin said.

It's a disaster etched in our country's history and today, Townsville soldiers held a memorial to commemorate the anniversary of the crash, remembering the comrades they lost in 1996.

"It was a very big hit to the unit. It impacted a lot of people, a lot of families of the regiment, families of the soldiers, and the wider ADF community," Lt Col Martin said.

The formation from the fatal night is no longer part of Defence training.

"That formation is quite tricky to judge in night vision goggles in terms of the aircraft spacing," Lt Col Martin said.

In 1996, Western Australia Governor Major-General Michael Jeffery said "sometimes high-risk training turns to tragedy, and what that happens it cuts us all to our very souls."

Since the crash the 5th Aviation Regiment has included lessons from the accident in day-to-day training, changing the way they assess risk and plan missions.

The public memorial was downsized this year to adhere to COVID-19 social distancing guidelines, but the regiment wants to do something significant for the 25th anniversary next year.

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Source: 9News https://www.9news.com.au/national/black-hawk-helicopter-crash-training-accident-deadly-tragedy-1996-commemorated/640d88f5-af6a-46b9-ac37-5aa2f91da0a7

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