More than 60 members of an Australian Army helicopter unit returned home on November 3 after eight months in Afghanistan.
The members of Rotary Wing Group Six operated a pair of CH-47D Chinook helicopters. They were attached to the US 101st Combat Aviation Brigade at Kandahar Airfield and flew throughout the southern provinces of Uruzgan, Daykundi, Kandahar and Zabul.
Unfortunately, LT Marcus Case, a Heron UAV pilot, was killed on May 30 when RWG-6’s Chinook A15-102 crashed during a resupply mission in Zabul Province. He was 27.
“The loss of Marcus and aircraft 102, and the ramifications of that, will affect everyone who was part of this detachment for the rest of their lives,” LTCOL Neil Monaghan, the group’s commanding officer, said in a statement.
But Monaghan said the deployment had been an overall success, with the Task Group exceeding 710 hours of flying time, conducting 135 combat missions, transporting 5237 passengers and moving approximately 470,390 kilograms of freight.
While most of the unit’s work involved moving passengers and cargo, it also supported Special Operations missions and took part in air assaults with conventional US infantry units, the statement said.
For the first time since Australian Rotary Wing Groups began operations in Afghanistan in 2006, the unit’s aircraft will remain in Kandahar over the Afghan winter for maintenance. A seventh RWG is expected to begin operations in February 2012.
Rotary Wing Group Six was drawn mainly from the Townsville based 5th Aviation Regiment.