Fort Drum remembers the 11 killed in a helicopter crash 20 years ago

Published: Mar. 11, 2023 at 5:33 PM EST
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FORT DRUM, New York (WWNY) - Saturday afternoon on Fort Drum, soldiers, veterans and family members gathered to commemorate the death of 11 soldiers who died in a helicopter crash 20 years ago.

On March 11, 2003, soldiers of the 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team and the 2nd Battalion, 10th Aviation Regiment of the 10th Combat Aviation Brigade were doing a training exercise in preparation of the invasion of Iraq.

Of the three helicopters that took part in the operations, only two came back. The third, a Black Hawk, crashed into a snowy, wooded area on post.

Jaye Lindsay, who was a member of the 4-31 “Polar Bears”, says that day has always stuck with him throughout his life.

“It’s really difficult sometimes to comprehend that. To me, some of them were older than me and they don’t get the chance to live. They don’t get the chance to have the next twenty years that I’ve had,” said Lindsay.

Memories were shared and tears were shed, but to Dmitiri Petrov, reuniting with people he hasn’t seen in 15 years strengthens the bond between them.

“To share something like that, the civilian world will never understand that. It’s something that we kind of share through our mutual experiences in the military,” said Petrov.

As for the soldiers who attended Saturday’s memorial, one says that those who make relationships in the army are meant to last forever.

“The relationships that people build and have built here are some of the most valuable. So, bringing them in to kind of help celebrate that and also sort of pay respect to the people that are no longer a part of that team. It’s part of what we do and it’s very important for us,” said Lt. Otis Hatfield.

Remembering the legacy of 11 soldiers whose memory will live on with the soldiers they served alongside.