Five confirmed dead following crash of army helicopter
Five of seven Guyana Defence Force (GDF) soldiers who were on board the Bell 412 Army helicopter that crashed on Wednesday are confirmed dead.
Those dead are Lieutenant Colonel, Michael Charles, Colonel Michael Shahoud, Retired Brigadier, Gary Beaton, Lieutenant Colonel, Sean Welcome and Staff Sergeant Jason Khan.
The two survivors are Corporal Dwayne Jackson and Lieutenant Andio Crawford.
The death of the men was confirmed on Thursday, hours after a search and rescue operation resumed to locate them and the aircraft.
Lieutenant Colonel Charles with over 40 years of experience, was flying the aircraft over mountains and dense jungle.
He was flying the team under the command of Colonel Shahoud, Commander of the 1st Infantry Battalion, on a mission to visit troops on the western border.
The army helicopter reportedly lost signal 30 miles from the border with Venezuela on Wednesday but the search had to be called off for the night because of bad weather.
On Wednesday, GDF Chief of Staff, Brigadier Omar Khan said the emergency signal from the aircraft suggests a crash landing or could have been triggered by the crew on board.
The Army deployed its Skyvan and a search and rescue team from its special forces. They were supported by a helicopter.
But after the search reconvened on Thursday, the teams experienced delays due to the inclement weather conditions. They were able to access the site at around 2pm Thursday.
National Security Advisor to the president, Caption Gerald Gouveia in a Facebook update said four teams of “skilled” experts were part of the search and rescue mission. They include medical specialists, technology experts, experienced pilots and engineers.
In a post on his Facebook page, President Dr Irfaan Ali described the dead soldiers as the “finest men” in uniform.
He said their loss is “immeasurable”.
“My heart pains and drowns in sorrow at the tragic loss of some of our finest men in uniform. The scale of this loss to the families, our country, the GDF and to me personally is immeasurable,” the President expressed.
“My trusted friends and comrades, my brothers how could this be? You loved your country above and beyond everything?” the Head of State questioned.
As he expressed condolences to their families, President Ali reflected on their dedication to service and contributions to the country.
“Country and service were all that mattered to you. I observe with so much honor, the pride you took in putting on your uniform,” the President said.
He added, “We became a family bonded in service and brotherhood. I have experienced the love of all of you and it is ripping me apart. My brothers I embrace your families as mine and will do as much as I can to represent all of you in service to your country and family. Rest in Peace my trusted friends. So many plans we had together. How could this be?”