HMCS Calgary members are able to remember Stalker 22, together

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Navy News / April 29, 2021

By Captain Jeff Klassen

On April 29, 2020, six Canadian Armed Forces members lost their lives in the tragic Stalker 22 Cyclone helicopter crash in the Ionian Sea while operating with Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Fredericton.

On the one-year anniversary of the crash, HMCS Calgary’s embarked Cyclone air detachment hosted a solemn ceremony for the ship’s company on the flight deck in honor of those six members. This took place in the Arabian Sea where Calgary is currently operating while deployed on Operation ARTEMIS.

Recently, a memorial for the crash was unveiled at 12 Wing Shearwater, N.S., however, because of COVID-19 this was mostly presented virtually to ensure social distancing.

“In Calgary we are blessed in the sense that, while the rest of those mourning Stalker 22 had to do so through social distancing, we were able to shake hands and hug on a day that is quite difficult for many of the air det and others on board,” said Calgary’s Air Officer Major Rob McMullen.

The ceremony started at 5 a.m.

“(Today) we remember those who died one year ago today in the tragic Cyclone crash in the Ionian Sea. We also gather to honour and uphold the covenant that we who serve have with those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the service of Canada,” said Major McMullen at the ceremony.

These remarks were followed by a prayer of remembrance by Chaplain Lieutenant (Navy) Wilson Gonese and then a minute of silence. A ceremonial lament was played by piper Sergeant Steven Drinkwalter and Master Corporal Travis Bliss read the official poem of the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF), High Flight

The ship’s cooks made a commemorative wreath of bread and food-coloring with the words “Stalker 22” on it for the ceremony. The ceremony ended by this being cast into the sea, followed by a playing of the RCAF March Past.

Throughout the month of April, members of the ship’s company wore Stalker 22 memorial patches on their sleeves, also to honor the Fallen.

Remembering this tragedy was important to the whole ship, but particularly to the air detachment, some of whom personally knew one or more of those who lost their lives, and to the ship’s embarked Naval Tactical Operations Group team, Reef, some of whom served in HMCS Fredericton with the Fallen members.

Those who lost their lives on April 29, 2020: 

  • Master Corporal Matthew Cousins, Airborne Electronic Sensor Operator, from Guelph, Ont.
  • Sub-Lieutenant Abbigail Cowbrough, Marine Systems Engineering Officer, from Toronto
  • Captain Kevin Hagen, Pilot, from Nanaimo, B.C.
  • Captain Brenden MacDonald, Pilot, from New Glasgow, N.S.
  • Captain Maxime Miron-Morin, Air Combat Systems Officer, from Trois-Rivières, Que.
  • Sub-Lieutenant Matthew Pyke, Naval Warfare Officer, from Truro, N.S.