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Preparing to mark the 25th Anniversary of Boxtop 22

A small contingent, led by the Commander of the Royal Canadian Air Force visited Canadian Forces Station Alert in Nunavut last week to dedicate a memorial cairn to the victims and survivors of “Boxtop 22.”

The cairn was lifted to the crash site by a CH-147 Chinook helicopter. The cairn is dedicated to all those that died, survived or worked to rescue survivors of the crash of CH-130 Hercules. The Hercules was participating in Operation Boxtop and was Flight 22.

The crash occurred near the station on October 30, 1991.The Hercules was on a resupply flight- Boxtop 22. The crash resulted in the death of five Canadian Armed Forces personnel.  in the crash were  Captain John Couch, pilot, 435 Transport Squadron, Edmonton, Alberta, Captain Judy Trépanier, logistics officer, Canadian Forces Communication Command Headquarters, Ottawa, Ontario, Master Warrant Officer Tom Jardine, regional services manager CANEX, Canadian Forces Base Trenton, Ontario, Warrant Officer Robert Grimsley, supply technician, Canadian Forces Communication Command Headquarters, Ottawa, and Master Corporal Roland Pitre, traffic technician, 435 Squadron.

The following lost their lives:

  • Captain John Couch, pilot, 435 Transport Squadron, Edmonton, Alberta,
  • Captain Judy Trépanier, logistics officer, Canadian Forces Communication Command Headquarters, Ottawa, Ontario
  • Master Warrant Officer Tom Jardine, regional services manager CANEX, Canadian Forces Base Trenton, Ontario
  • Warrant Officer Robert Grimsley, supply technician, Canadian Forces Communication Command Headquarters, Ottawa
  • Master Corporal Roland Pitre, traffic technician, 435 Squadron.

Due to hazardous weather conditions, several rescue attempts were launched, by both land and air, but were rendered unsuccessful. After more than 30 hours the first search and rescue technicians were able to parachute on to the site and provide medical support to the 13 survivors.

The rescued included:

  • Robert Thomson, civilian, Canadian Forces Base Trenton
  • Susan Hillier, civilian, Canadian Forces Base Trenton, Captain Richard Dumoulin, logistics officer, Canadian Forces Communication Command Headquarters
  • Captain Wilma DeGroot, doctor, Canadian Forces Base Trenton Lieutenant Joe Bales, pilot, 435 Squadron
  • Lieutenant Mike Moore, navigator, 435 Squadron
  • Master Warrant Officer Marc Tremblay, supply technician, Canadian Forces Communication Command Headquarters Sergeant Paul West, flight engineer, 435 Squadron
  • Master Corporal Tony Cobden, communications researcher, 770 Communication Research Squadron, Gander, Newfoundland Master Corporal David Meace, radio technician, 1 Canadian Division Headquarters and Signal Squadron, Canadian Forces Base Kingston, Ontario,
  • Master Corporal Mario Ellefsen, communications researcher, Canadian Forces Station Leitrim, Ottawa
  • Master Seaman “Monty” Montgomery, communications researcher, Canadian Forces Station Leitrim
  • Private Bill Vance, communications researcher, Canadian Forces Station Leitrim.
  • “We have taken the first flights in our task to mark the crash, the lives lost, and the rescue effort of Boxtop 22, as we prepare for the 25th anniversary. We and the families and friends of those who died still grieve. Survivors bear their scars. And rescuers retain their memories. While we live and operate in the high Arctic every day, we must be ever aware of the remoteness and risks our people accept to assure Canadian sovereignty at the top of the world,” said LGen. Mike Hood, Commander of the Royal Air Force.

The cairn will now be flown to 8 Wing Trenton, Ontario where it will include in a memorial to be unveiled for the 25th anniversary of the crash later this year. Families of both the survivors and those that died are being contacted in preparation to mark the 25th anniversary.

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Mishall Rehman

Originally from Atlanta, GA, Mishall is a freelance journalist pursuing her passion for writing in her new homeland Canada. She currently lives in Trenton, ON with her husband.

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