UH-60L Black Hawk engine cowling

2 Commando Regiment

In the early hours of 21 June 2010, men of the 2 Commando Regiment working with Task Force No Mercy of the 101st Airborne Division, United States Army flew toward the Shah Wali Kot region of Kandahar, Afghanistan, on board four UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters. The night was dark, with little ambient light to allow the effective use of night vision goggles. As the first of the Black Hawks approached the final checkpoint, it hit an embankment at high speed, causing it to roll a number of times and catch fire. The other three Blackhawks landed, and began to provide first aid to the wounded and security to the site.

Privates Timothy Aplin and Scott Palmer were killed instantly. Private Benjamin Chuck died of his wounds shortly after arriving at hospital in Kandahar. An American crewman, Staff Sergeant Brandon Silk, was also killed in the crash. The other occupants of the helicopter were badly wounded.

Private S had been thrown from the helicopter when it crashed. His first memory was lying on the floor, surrounded by burning wreckage and in agonising pain, slipping in and out of consciousness while men provided him first aid. The cowling from the left engine of the crashed helicopter was removed, and used to carry Private S to one of the other helicopters.

The cowling continued to be used as a makeshift stretcher until the site was evacuated. It was later displayed in the Trauma Department of the NATO Role 3 Multinational Medical Unit, Kandahar, where a motif was added to it. In 2012, it was donated to the Australian War Memorial.

When Private S woke up, he was in Germany. He had suffered two broken legs, two broken ribs, a broken ankle, a collapsed lung, and a fractured and fused thoracic spine. After a long recovery, he was able to re-join his unit, and he went on to serve on multiple tours in Afghanistan and Iraq.