Commemorative services were held at the Black Hawk Memorial in the Townsville Palmetum as well as in Canberra, Sydney and at Campbell Barracks, Perth on June 12 to mark the 20th anniversary of Army’s worst peacetime aviation disaster.
On the evening of June 12 1996, a flight of six S-70A-9 Black Hawks from Army’s 5 Aviation Regiment were conducting a night-time counter terrorism training mission with members of the Perth-based Special Air Service (SAS) Regiment in the High Range Training Area near Townsville, in preparation for the upcoming 2000 Sydney Olympic Games.
As the formation reached the target zone, the lead Black Hawk, callsigned ‘Black 1’, converged to the right and collided with an adjacent Black Hawk, ‘Black 2’. As a result, both Black Hawks, A25-113 and A25-209, impacted the ground and were destroyed. Three Army aircrew and 15 members of the SAS Regiment were killed. Twelve others were badly injured.
“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,” said Chief of Army, Lieutenant General Angus Campbell.
“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.”
Fourteen soldiers were awarded bravery decorations for their rescue efforts following the accident.