Ceremony held for Basra crash victims

A ceremony has been held to mark the repatriation of five military personnel killed in a helicopter crash in Basra earlier this month.

The five dead included Flight Lieutenant Sarah Mulvihill, 32, from RAF Benson in Oxfordshire, who was the first woman to be killed in the line of duty in Iraq, and Wing Commander John Coxen, 46, also from RAF Benson, the most senior officer to be killed in Iraq to date.

Captain David Dobson, 27, Lieutenant Commander Darren Chapman, 40, and Marine Paul Collins, 21, all from the Royal Naval Air Station Yeovilton in Somerset, were also killed in the crash.

The Lynx helicopter the five personnel were travelling in crashed in Basra on May 6.

The ceremony was held at RAF Brize Norton on Thursday and was attended by the Duchess of Gloucester and Vice-Chief of the Defence Staff Sir Timothy Granville-Chapman.

Armed Forces Minister Adam Ingram, who also attended the event, said: "Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of those killed in this tragic incident. We must never forget the sacrifice made by our Armed Forces to help the Iraqi government build a stable and secure country and to protect our national interests. Their selfless commitment and dedication is an inspiration to us all."

Commodore Tony Johnstone-Burt, Deputy Commander of Joint Helicopter Command said: "The tragic events of May 6 have been felt acutely across the board - most deeply, of course, by the victims' friends and families but also by their colleagues in Iraq and throughout the wider defence community.

"They were all exceptional individuals who have left a lasting legacy with all those fortunate enough to have known them. I am confident that their sacrifice in the line of duty has stiffened the resolve of all those on operations, regardless of their rank or rate, and made them even more determined to live up to their memory and finish the job that they have started. They will not be forgotten."

The cause of the helicopter crash is still being investigated. It is believed that it may have been shot down.


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