Mon, Feb 12, 2018 - Page 1 News List

Ceremony held for crew of missing rescue helicopter

By Chen Hsien-yi and Jonathan Chin  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Members of the National Airborne Services Corps yesterday hold a ceremony in Taitung County for comrades missing after a rescue helicopter disappeared off Orchid Island on Monday night last week.

Photo: CNA

The National Airborne Services Corps (NASC) yesterday held a ceremony to call back the souls of their comrades presumed lost at sea when rescue helicopter NA-706 crashed near Orchid Island (Lanyu, 蘭嶼) on Monday last week.

The UH-60M Black Hawk from the NASC Third Squadron Third Brigade disappeared from radar at 11:48pm, three minutes after taking off from Lanyu to med-evacuate a patient to Taitung.

Rescuers on Saturday traced the helicopter’s transponder signal from its black box to a location 800m underwater southeast of Lanyu.

There were six people onboard when the helicopter disappeared: three crew members, an emergency medical technician, the patient and a family member of the patient.

Following Saturday’s discovery, the corps announced it would hold the ceremony on Lanyu in honor of pilot Kang Yan-fu (康萬福), copilot Tang Yu-yen (唐文彥), flight engineer Chen Kuan-hung (陳冠宏) and medical emergency technician Tsai Yi-ming (蔡邑敏).

However, poor weather yesterday forced authorities to hold the event at the mouth of Taiping River (太平溪) in Taitung County instead.

Third Squadron Third Brigade personnel accompanied relatives of the four, including Chen’s wife, who is pregnant and had to be escorted in a wheelchair after nearly fainting.

A squadron member read the official record of the crash, followed by a minute of silence.

“I am your commander. I am here to tell you that the mission is finished. Come home to your families,” NASC Third Squadron Third Brigade Commander Chu Shih-chuan (祝世全) shouted out in the direction of Lanyu.

Kang’s wife said her husband had discussed the risks of his profession with her.

She said she had told him that if he did lose his life, he should not worry about the family in the afterlife as that would impede his peace, because she and their children would find the strength to carry on.

The National Search and Rescue Center yesterday said that the search for the Black Hawk would continue until Wednesday night, despite the black box signal being located on Saturday.

Aircraft will make two flights daily from the NASC to search from the air, while navy and Coast Guard Administration ships would continue to search at sea, it said in a statement.

The search will continue until Wednesday night.

Additional reporting by CNA

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