UH-60L Black Hawk engine cowling hanging chain: NATO Role 3, Multinational Medical Unit, Kandahar

Place Asia: Afghanistan, Kandahar Province, Shah Wali Kot
Accession Number REL45788.002
Collection type Heraldry
Object type Heraldry
Physical description Metal
Maker Sikorksy Aircraft Corporation
Place made Afghanistan, United States of America
Date made c 2010
Conflict Afghanistan, 2001-

Original hanging chain and mounting screws the Blackhawk cowling when it was hung in the trauma bay at NATO Role 3, Multinational Medical Unit, Kandahar.

History / Summary

During the period 20-21 June 2010, Afghan and Coalition Forces, including Australian Commandos, based in Tarin Kowt were part of a Special Operations Task Group (SOTG) element conducting a disruption operation against insurgents.

In the early hours of 21 June, four US UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters were transporting personnel into the Shah Wali Kot region of Kandahar Province. During the final approach to the landing zone, one of the helicopters carrying ten Australian soldiers and a number of US personnel crashed into a slight embankment in open desert terrain. The impact caused the helicopter to roll and the fuselage to catch fire. The three remaining Black Hawks responded immediately, landing close to the crash site to provide initial medical assistance and security around the area.

The crash claimed the lives of three Australian soldiers. 8251206 Private Timothy James Aplin and 8230813 Private Scott Travis Palmer were killed instantly, while 8491591 Private Benjamin Adam Chuck was pronounced dead from his wounds shortly after arriving at the NATO Role 3 Multinational Medical Facility in Kandahar. All three men were from the Sydney based 2 Commando Regiment.

Another seven commandos were injured in the crash, and were flown to Landstuhl Regional Medical Centre in Germany for immediate treatment.

This engine cowling was used as an emergency stretcher in the evacuation of casualties off the crashed helicopter. It subsequently became a commemorative item and was hung in the Trauma Department of the NATO Role 3 Multinational Medical Unit, Kandahar.

On 14 October 2011, Vice Chief of the Defence Force, Air Marshal Mark Binskin AO, released the Australian Inquiry Officer's report into the deaths of the three Australians. The report accepted a United States investigation that found the primary cause of the helicopter crash was a lack of aircrew coordination during the approach to the designated landing zone. The crew lost situational awareness of their rate of descent and impacted the ground with little or no prior warning.

In June 2013 the pilot of the UH-60L, Trevor Balcom visited the Memorial with members of 2 Commando Regiment who were involved with the incident. He was able to positively identify the cowling as coming from the 'number one' engine mounted on the upper left hand side of the aircraft.