A Vigil Party stands solemnly around the Wegner Point memorial cairn during the 47th annual Fallen Paratrooper Memorial Service last year. The ceremony this year will be held on Sunday, May 8 and members of the public are welcome to attend. (File photo by Patricia Leboeuf, Petawawa Post)

48th annual Fallen Paratrooper Memorial to be held May 8

Military News


Posted on Thursday, April 28, 2016

GARRISON PETAWAWA - Master Warrant Officer Reginald Riddell, Warrant Officer Michael McDonnell, Cpl Hugh Fields, Cpl Bob Knight, Cpl Dennis Clements, Cpl Jim Misener and Cpl Bruce Chiswell will once again be remembered at a special service at Garrison Petawawa on Sunday, May 8, nearly a half-century after the Ottawa River claimed the lives of the seven paratroopers.

The tragic nighttime parachute drop on May 8, 1968 marked one of the largest peacetime training accidents in Canadian military history. A service held each year overlooking the stretch of river where the incident occurred honours their sacrifice, and keeps the memory of the fallen alive.

Dennis Stow is once again organizing the Memorial Service for Fallen Paratroopers. “It’s a way to show those who were left behind, and their families, that we remember them and we’re going to continue to honour them for as long as we can,” he said.

On that fateful evening 48 years ago, members of The Royal Canadian Regiment and 2 Signal Squadron participated in a night parachute jump. Those who exited the Buffalo aircraft in the first pass were caught by a strong crosswind and 22 of the 26 jumpers were carried into the river. Despite the efforts of those who tried to rescue them, seven soldiers were lost.

The annual service will begin at 11 a.m. at the Wegner Point Memorial Cairn, on which the names of the fallen are inscribed. Members of the public are welcome to attend.

Stow noted jump survivors and several adult children of the fallen are expected to be in attendance, as well as local dignitaries, members of both the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 517 Petawawa and Branch 72 Pembroke, and serving personnel at Garrison Petawawa including representatives from The Royal Canadian Regiment. Members of the Canadian Army Veterans Anzio Motorcycle Unit have also been attending the service in recent years.

The route to Wegner Point, located behind the 427 Special Operations Aviation Squadron Heliport off Passchendaele Road, will be well marked. Visitors are asked to arrive no later than 10:45 a.m. A small reception will follow at the Petawawa Legion.

For more information about the ceremonies, contact Dennis Stow at 613-732-4477, or email dennis_stow@hotmail.com. Donations are also gratefully accepted to cover the cost of service programs and lunch.