ADF Helicopter Crash


On July 28, 2023, during Exercise Talisman Sabre four Australian soldiers died from a helicopter crash during a night‐time exercise with the US and other nations near the Whitsunday Islands on the Great Barrier.

File picture
The search has widened for the military helicopter went down near Dent Island.Reef. 

During this challenging and stressful time, deliberate chaplaincy support was enacted to ensure that pastoral, spiritual and religious support was provided to the immediate families who were grieving the unimaginable loss of a loved one.

Numerous members of the ADF provided immediate response through the provision of administrative support and welfare to military members and their families.

The Holsworthy‐based chaplains, along with a network of support agencies, worked as a team to look after the welfare of those who were both directly and indirectly affected by this tragic event, giving them access to a range of additional support mechanisms should they be required.

As a Catholic Defence community our prayers go to all grieving families, members of the 6th Aviation Regiment, Holsworthy Army community, and the broader ADF community throughout Australia and overseas. We cherish Danniel, Maxwell, Joseph and Alex’s service, we honour their sacrifice, and we mourn with their families. May they rest now in God’s everlasting love, peace and care.

The MRH‐90 helicopter tragedy was a stark reminder of the serious nature and inherent risks involved in the jobs that our Australian soldiers perform on a day-to-day basis as military members. These risks are always present, regardless of whether they are on training or on operations. This reminds us to always pray for the safety of our ADF members, wherever they may be.

Catholic chaplains involved in Talisman Sabre included Fr Joel Vegara (Holsworthy), Fr Thomas Zaranski (North Queensland), Chap Joe Moloney (North Queensland) and Fr Gabiel Ezenwa (RAAF Base Curtin).

Chief of Army, Lt‐Gen Simon Stuart, expressed his gratitude to the aircrew for their service and his sorrow for their families’ losses, ’We honour these men, not just as soldiers, but as loved sons, husbands, fathers, brothers and friends.’ CDF Gen Angus Campbell thanked the ADF teams and international partners involved in the search‐and‐rescue effort, ‘which is bringing out the very best of our people.’ Defence Minister Richard Marles said, ’This accident is a reminder of the unique significance that comes from service in the ADF.’

Written by Alan Hodges