Ottawa, Ontario – Cheryl Gallant, MP for Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, paid tribute to the seven paratroopers from CFB Petawawa who died in a training accident 45 years ago. In a statement in the House of Commons before Question Period, Mrs. Gallant continued the tradition of the families, friends and comrades of the fallen paratroopers by reading their names aloud in memory of their tragic accident.
Mrs. Cheryl Gallant (Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, CPC): Mr. Speaker, I am proud to represent the fine men and women in uniform at CFB Petawawa.
Forty-five years ago this month, 26 paratroopers disembarked from their Buffalo transport aircraft expecting a smooth landing. As young paratroopers descended from the heavens, something was amiss. High winds had pushed the men away from their drop zone into the frigid waters of the Ottawa River. Entangled in their parachutes, the soldiers struggled to reach shore. When exhausted rescuers finally finished their search seven troopers were still missing. They would never return. Recovery teams retrieved every single body.
On May 8, friends, family and former comrades gathered at a memorial to mark the solemn occasion. The names of the victims were read out for all to hear, as has been done every year since the tragedy: Master Warrant Officer Reginald Riddell, Warrant Officer Michael McDonnell, Corporals Hugh Fields, Bob Knight, Dennis Clements, Jim Misner and Bruce Chiswell.
In the words Padre Wayne Sollows, “We gather to remember those who trained to defend our great nation, but in doing so had their lives taken away from them in peace”.