Members of a Iowa National Guard aviation company in Davenport will dedicate a memorial today to three fellow soldiers who died and two who were injured in Iraq. Iowa Guard spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Greg Hapgood says it was two years ago today (November 2nd) that the Chinook helicopter was shot near Fallujah. He says on board were Chief Warrant Officer Bruce Smith of West Liberty, Sergeant Paul Fisher of Cedar Rapids of the Iowa Guard and First Lieutenant Brian Slavenas of the Illinois National Guard.
Smith and Slavenas died when the copter crashed. Smith died four days later in a military hospital in Germany. Hapgood says Sergeant Gerald Santos and Specialist Chad Baetke, both of Davenport, were crewmembers on the copter and suffered serious injuries.
Hapgood says they’re dedicating a stone memorial today at the Davenport flight facility. He says idea for the memorial came from the unit, Detachment One Company F of the 106th Aviation unit. Hapgood says they were very close and wanted to do something special to note the loss and injury to “their aviation brothers.” Hapgood says they felt a permanent memorial was needed to mark the men’s sacrifice.
He says, “It really was something they wanted to do, and thought was the right thing to do, to make sure that the public understood what these men were about. And that they gave their life in the right of freedom.” The dedication ceremony is tonight at six o’clock and is open to the public.