FORT RILEY, Kan. (WIBW) - Five Fort Riley soldiers who died in a helicopter crash last month were honored Tuesday morning with a memorial ceremony on post.
Not a single seat was available at Morris Hill Chapel as nearly 500 people gathered to pay tribute to five men who lost their lives in Afghanistan following an unexplained accident.
"These soldiers absolutely loved what they did," said Lieutenant Colonel Matthew Weinshel. "They told me so. They loved flying. They all were very hard workers and this is a tremendous loss, not only to our nation and the army in our unit, but to me personally because I knew each and every one of these soldiers."
The ceremony included an honor guard and bugler who stood outside to offer a 21-gun salute and play taps. Soldiers later filed to the front of the chapel to salute their fallen colleagues in front of a small memorial that included boots, rifles and aviation helmets.
"We can’t just stop the mission or stop what we’re doing either there or here," said Weinshel. "Back at Fort Riley we have a really important training mission here and remain ready to answer our nation’s next call here at Fort Riley."
The soldiers who died were Chief Warrant Officer 2 Randy Billings, of Heavener, Oklahoma; Chief Warrant Officer 2 Joshua Silverman, of Scottsdale, Arizona; Sergeant Peter Bohler, of Willow Spring, North Carolina; Sergeant 1st Class Omar Forde, of Marietta, Georgia.; and Specialist Terry Gordon, of Shubuta, Mississippi.
The cause of the accident is under further investigation.