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56th Fallen Jumper Ceremony 2024



Petawawa Post article

 

May 5 marks the 56th anniversary of Canada’s worst peacetime training accident, which saw seven paratroopers drown as a result of severe wind blowing them into the Ottawa River.


When a contingent of 2 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group Headquarters & Signal Squadron (2 CMBG HQ & Sigs) and Royal Canadian Regiment (RCR) paratroopers disembarked from three aircraft during the evening of May 8, 1968, they were caught in a sudden wind sheer and missed their drop zone on the Mattawa Plains.


20 of the 24 jumpers plummeted into the icy waters of the Ottawa River near Wegner Point, their heavy waterlogged chutes and equipment dragging them under. Despite rescue efforts, seven soldiers perished on that terrible dark night.

Their names are forever etched on the hearts and minds of their family members, friends, comrades, and survivors of that traumatizing night: Master Warrant Officer (MWO) Reg Riddell, Warrant Officer (WO) Mike McDonnell, Corporal (Cpl) Bruce Chiswell, Cpl Bob Knight, Cpl Hugh Fields, Cpl Dennis Clements and Cpl Jim Misener.

For 56 years, their tragic loss during Ex NEW SHAKEDOWN has been honoured at Garrison Petawawa with a memorial ceremony.


This year’s ceremony will take place on Sunday, May 5th at 1100 hours atop the hill that now houses the memorial cairn. For those wishing to attend the ceremony and have not yet been to this location, it is at the corner of Vimy Road and Arras Road on Garrison Petawawa. We are asking spectators to be seated for 1045 hours. A reception will follow at the Reichwald WOs’ & Sgts’ Mess.


The memorial cairn was moved from its original location near Wegner Point in 2019. Though its previous location was closer to where the tragedy occurred, having the memorial at the top of the hill on Vimy road near the Afghanistan memorial forest and Artillery Park is more accessible to everyone and helps consolidate our memorials and the history of service they represent.


Following the Fallen Jumper ceremony, attendees are invited to the unveiling of a memorial plaque at the Garrison Museum for those who served in Canada’s UN mission in Cyprus, with 2024 marking the 60th anniversary of UN Forces in the country. We appreciate the effort of the Cyprus 2024 Committee in making this dedication in remembrance of the sacrifices made in pursuit of peace, including Paratroopers Perron and Berger and 30 others that were wounded.


If you have any questions related to the ceremony, you can email the 2 CMBG HQ & Sigs RSM, CWO Ray Laplante at raymond.laplante@forces.gc.ca.



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