An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Kandahar Heritage

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Rito Smith
  • 455th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

On June 21, 2010, four U.S. Army UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters were transporting Coalition personnel into the Shah Wali kot region of Kandahar Province, Afghanistan, as part of Task Force ‘No Mercy’.

The task force was conducting counterinsurgency operations in the region. During the approach to the final check point, the first helicopter carrying Australian soldiers and U.S. Army personnel crashed at high speed into a slight embankment in open desert terrain.

This impact cause the helicopter to roll and the fuselage to catch fire. The three remaining Black Hawks immediately responded, landing near the crash site to provide initial medical assistance and security around the area.

One U.S. soldier, Staff Sgt. Brandon M. Silk, and three Australian soldiers, Private Timothy James Aplin, Private Scott Travis Palmer and Private Benjamin Adam Chuck, were killed in the crash. Seven Australian Commandos and several U.S. Army aircrew were seriously injured.

The severely wounded personnel were evacuated by aeromedical flights to Landstuhl Regional Medical Centre, Germany, for immediate medical treatment. The engine cowling from the helicopter was used as an improvised emergency stretcher by members of the 2nd Commando Regiment in the evacuation of casualties off the crashed and burning helicopter.

This engine cowling subsequently became a significant commemorative item. The edges of the cowling are damaged, while the bottom edge of the cover is missing and shows evidence of the crash.

The cowling was panted with a red, white and black circular motif representing the rising sun with the silhouettes of two medical helicopters and the NATO emblem surmounting the silhouette of a mountain range with and outline map of Afghanistan. Surrounding the edge of the motif in red letters is ‘KAF Role 3 MMU Trauma Bay in memory of June 21st, 2010.’

Today it is displayed as a memorial in the Trauma Department of the NATO Role 3 Multinational Medical Unit at Kandahar Airfield. It serves to remind all who see it of the Australian and U.S. soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice.

“I have nothing but admiration and respect for these very brave and committed Australians,” Air Chief Marshall Angus Houston, chief of the Australian Defence Force said to the surviving families. “I assure you that the commitment, dedication and sacrifice of these soldiers will not be forgotten.”