Men made the ultimate sacrifice for their country

By Aideen O'Flaherty

THERE were emotional scenes in Casement Aerodrome in Baldonnell on Tuesday (July 2) to mark the 20th Anniversary of the crash of Rescue 111, where four Air Corps aircrew, including Captain Dave O’Flaherty from Lucan and Corporal Niall Byrne from Dublin, lost their lives.

The crew, including Captain Mick Baker from Wexford and Sergeant Paddy Mooney from Meath, were returning from a successful rescue mission, where they had located a missing boat and directed the Helvick Lifeboat to its location, before Rescue 111’s tragic accident.

Rescue 111 Paddy Niall Mick and Dave 1

Sergeant Paddy Mooney, Corporal Niall Byrne, Captain Mick Baker and Dave O’Flaherty from Lucan

During the course of the rescue there was a significant deterioration in the weather conditions, and after the crew had set off from the search and rescue mission and were attempting to land in Waterford Airport in dense fog in the early hours of July 2, 1999, they collided with a sand dune.

The four-man crew on Rescue 111 died as a result of the collision, and they were remembered on Tuesday when their families, friends and colleagues gathered at their home base in Casement Aerodrome, Baldonnell and the crash site in Tramore to commemorate them.

The Air Cops said: “Tribute was paid to their service and the sacrifice they made to the State and people of Ireland.”

Rescue 111 Missing Man Flypast 1

A ceremonial ‘missing man’ Flypast was conducted by the Air Corps in Baldonnell on Tuesday

A military guard of honour and ceremonial ‘missing man’ flypast was conducted by the Air Corps during the commemoration.

The Air Corps said that the four men had “made the ultimate sacrifice” when they carried out their final search and rescue mission.

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