A memorial pays respect to the victims of a military helicopter crash, at 12 Wing Shearwater in Dartmouth, N.S., home of 423 Maritime Helicopter Squadron, on Friday, May 1, 2020. A CH-148 Cyclone helicopter flying from the Halifax-class frigate HMCS Fredericton crashed off the coast of Greece while taking part in a NATO exercise as in the Mediterranean. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

A memorial pays respect to the victims of a military helicopter crash, at 12 Wing Shearwater in Dartmouth, N.S., home of 423 Maritime Helicopter Squadron, on Friday, May 1, 2020. A CH-148 Cyclone helicopter flying from the Halifax-class frigate HMCS Fredericton crashed off the coast of Greece while taking part in a NATO exercise as in the Mediterranean. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

More remains found as Canadian helicopter search turns to recovery near Greece

The search for five Canadians service members had formally turned into ‘search and recovery efforts’

After scouring a littered seascape with its NATO allies, a Canadian Forces warship formally ended its search for survivors Friday after its maritime helicopter crashed off the coast of Greece.

The search for five lost crew in the Wednesday Cyclone helicopter crash formally ended after three days, the Canadian Forces said.

Six military personnel were aboard the helicopter when it went down in the Mediterranean Sea as it was returning to the Halifax-based frigate, HMCS Fredericton.

“This decision was not taken lightly,” Rear Admiral Craig Baines, the commander of the navy’s maritime command, told reporters on a windswept pier in Halifax.

The Fredericton, as well as Turkish, Italian, Greek ships, helicopters and planes, thoroughly searched the area for survivors and came up short, he said.

“While searches on the sea are never easy, these units have completely saturated the area for the duration of the search over a known crash location,” said Baines. ”So we are certain that if there were survivors, we would have found them within the past 48 hours.”

Baines confirmed the search for five Canadians service members had formally turned into ”search and recovery efforts” instead of a rescue effort. The body of Sub-Lt. Abbigail Cowbrough was previously recovered from the wreckage.

The Forces said it also recovered the remains believed to be those of people aboard the helicopter but they can’t yet be identified. Baines said Italian and Turkish ships are remaining at the scene of the accident to assist with recovery operations for at least the next 48 hours.

The helicopter was part of the Fredericton’s NATO mission when it went down while concluding a training exercise.

The Fredericton was bound for an Italian port and was expected to arrive Saturday. The crew planned to hold a vigil for their lost comrades.

“Upon arrival in Italy the ship will transfer the remains to our team on the ground who will facilitate their return to Canada via Canadian military airlift,” Baines said. “The remains of our fallen will be brought home next week.”

Baines said Fredericton’s crew would remain in Italy for several days before returning to resume its role in the NATO mission.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said all Canadians were mourning the loss of six military members.

“Every day these brave Canadians in uniform put themselves in harm’s way to keep our country and our citizens safe, and together we will honour their service to Canada and our closest allies,” Trudeau said in a statement.

“I also thank our NATO allies who worked side by side with members of our Armed Forces to search for the fallen.”

Gen. Jonathan Vance, the chief of the defence staff, said it was a “particularly difficult” situation for the families of those who died.

“What makes this all the more difficult to bear is our inability — thus far — to recover all of our fallen comrades,” Vance said Friday in his weekly letter to troops.

Vance said an investigation would hopefully find the cause of the crash.

“In the meantime, we grieve.”

The Canadian military also sent a flight investigation team to the region to determine the cause of the crash.

The Cyclone’s flight-data and voice recorders have been recovered after they broke away from the helicopter when it crashed and will soon be returned to Canada for analysis.

The missing Canadian servicemen have been identified as Capt. Brenden Ian MacDonald of New Glasgow, N.S.; Capt. Kevin Hagen of Nanaimo, B.C.; Capt. Maxime Miron-Morin from Trois-Rivieres, Que.; Sub-Lt. Matthew Pyke from Truro, N.S.; and Master Cpl. Matthew Cousins from Guelph, Ont.

“These proud military members died heroes, and we will always remember them,” said Col. James Hawthorne, the commander of 12 Wing Shearwater, the Cyclone’s base.

“To the families of these members, remember that we are here to support you — you are part of the military family and now we are in service to you.”

Hawthorne descried MacDonald as a “proud father in a house full of boys” and one of three military siblings.

MacDonald was a “natural in all respects,” said Kevin A. MacDonald, a Halifax lawyer who knew the missing pilot when he was a teenager in the Air Cadets. The two MacDonalds are not related.

Kevin MacDonald was an instructor and operations officer at the school, and says he met Brenden when he moved on to take his pilot’s license in 2002.

“You don’t get to where he did without being a quick study in all respects, not only in terms of technical aptitude but also in terms of academics. You can tell usually within the first flight or two whether or not they are going to stick with it and whether or not they are going to go on to greater things, and he was destined for what he was doing.”

Kyle Hagen described his brother, Kevin as the ”perfect brother” to he and his sister.

“He’s been a shining example of truth, duty and valour for us. We’ve been proud of him our whole lives, he’s been my closest friend, and I can’t describe how hard his loss has been for us,” he said in a Facebook message.

“The military community and representatives have been compassionate and professional, and I’m sorry to Kevin’s brothers- and sisters-in-arms for this awful loss.”

Miron-Morin dreamed of serving in the Forces since he was a teenaged cadet, and became an air combat systems operator in the Royal Canadian Air Force, said Hawthorne.

Cousins was “an outstanding aviator who kept the officers of his crew in line and focused on the mission, said Hawthorne.

Hawthorne said Pyke and Cowbrough were “brothers- and sisters-in-arms” as well as friends.

Mike Blanchfield and Keith Doucette, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Photo: Andy Bronson
KSCL to build Castlegar housing complex

The development will include supportive and affordable housing units

With new Provincial Health Orders, area sports teams will suspend all travel including the Trail Smoke Eaters and Trail minor hockey rep teams and some house teams. Photo: Jim Bailey.
New COVID regs suspend junior and minor hockey rep play

All West Kootenay travelling hockey teams have been grounded until Dec. 7

Some of the items available at the online auction.
Castlegar Rotary fundraising auction online

Great opportunity to shop local from home for your holiday gift needs

Nav Canada is considering closing its station at the West Kootenay Regional Airport. Photo: Betsy Kline
LETTER: Pilots encourage Nav Canada to keep Castlegar station open

“We are writing this letter as concerned users of the Castlegar airport”

Kyle Charles poses for a photo in Edmonton on Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. Marvel Entertainment, the biggest comic book publisher in the world, hired the 34-year-old First Nations illustrator as one of the artists involved in Marvel Voice: Indigenous Voices #1 in August. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
VIDEO: Indigenous illustrator of new Marvel comic hopes Aboriginal women feel inspired

Kyle Charles says Indigenous women around the world have reached out

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

B.C. Liberal MLA Shirley Bond questions NDP government ministers in the B.C. legislature, Feb. 19, 2020. (Hansard TV)
Cabinet veteran Shirley Bond chosen interim leader of B.C. Liberals

28-member opposition prepares for December legislature session

Motorists wait to enter a Fraser Health COVID-19 testing facility, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, November 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
COVID-19: What do rising positivity rates mean for B.C.? It’s not entirely clear

Coronavirus cases are on the rise but the province has not unveiled clear thresholds for further measures

A rider carves a path on Yanks Peak Saturday, Nov. 21. Two men from Prince George went missing on the mountain the next day. One of them, Colin Jalbert, made it back after digging out his sled from four feet under the snow. The other, Mike Harbak, is still missing. Local search and rescue teams went out looking Monday, Nov. 23. (Sam Fait Photo)
‘I could still be the one out there’: Snowmobiler rescued, 1 missing on northern B.C. mountain

As Quesnel search and rescue teams search for the remaining rider, Colin Jalbert is resting at home

More than 70 anglers participated in the bar-fishing demonstration fishery on Sept. 9, 2020 on the Fraser River near Chilliwack. DFO officers ticketed six people and seized four rods. A court date is set for Dec. 1, 2020. (Jennifer Feinberg/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Anglers ticketed in Fraser River demonstration fishery heading to court

Sportfishing groups started a GoFundMe with almost $20K so far for legal defence of six anglers

Pictured is the Cranbrook gravel pit, located between two graveyards near the public works yard. This is where two lost kids were located by a Salvador Ready Mix driver on Thursday, November 19, 2020. (Corey Bullock/Cranbrook Townsman file)
Two lost Cranbrook kids find their way home thanks to Salvador Ready Mix driver

The driver found the children wandering near the gravel pits in Cranbrook

Care home staff are diligent about wearing personal protective equipment when they are in contact with residents, but less so when they interact with other staff members, B.C. Seniors Advocate says. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
More COVID-19 testing needed for senior home staff, B.C.’s advocate says

Employees mingling spotted as virus conductor in many workplaces

Most Read