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Fri, Oct 28, 2022

Antelope Island Helicopter Tragedy to be Commemorated

30th Anniversary Observance Honors Lost Servicemen

On 29 October 1992, four MH-60G Pave Hawk helicopters departed from Hill Air Force Base in northern Utah on a joint training exercise to Michael Army Airfield on the U.S. Army’s Dugway Proving Ground—a journey of some 63-nautical-miles.

Enroute, one of the helicopters was lost in convective weather—going down off the northeast coast of Antelope Island in the Great Salt Lake. Accident investigators determined the aircraft struck the water at approximately 130-knots and exploded on impact, killing 12 of the 13 Special Operators onboard. The accident’s only survivor—USAF Major Stephan J. Laushine, the helicopter’s pilot—was rescued by a trio of U.S. Army Rangers who paddled inflatable kayaks through slicks of flaming jet fuel to pull the aviator from the Pave Hawk’s wreckage.

In the months following the accident, Frank and Marlys Mishak—whose son, Sergeant Blaine A. Mishak, was among those lost in the tragedy—visited the crash-site and conceived of the notion to have built a memorial for the deceased soldiers and airmen. After two-years of planning and building, a three-foot-high granite monument honoring the fallen servicemen was unveiled to a crowd of about 150 people—including the Mishak’s—at a commemorative site on Antelope Island.

The monument—to the enduring disapprobation of the U.S. Department of Defense—was paid for by local businesses and donations from the families and friends of the departed.

On 29 October 2022 at 10:00 MDT, a number of U.S. Air Force and U.S. Army nonprofit organizations will host an observance of the 30th anniversary of the Antelope Island tragedy. The hosting group includes the Combat Control Foundation, Air Commando Association, Combat Control Association, 75th Ranger Regiment Association, Three Rangers Association, and US Army Ranger Association.

The ceremony will celebrate the lives of the 12 Special Operators who perished in the accident, and will rededicate the memorial in their honor. The program will include an opening prayer, followed by a description of the operation, guest speakers, and the unveiling of the updated memorial. The ceremony will conclude with a 21-gun salute, ceremonial Taps, and a benediction.



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