Nova Scotia

Military members in helicopter crash honoured aboard HMCS Fredericton

A ceremony to honour the lives of six Canadian military members who went down in a helicopter crash in the Mediterranean Sea was held aboard HMCS Fredericton on Sunday. 

Another formal ceremony will be held at Canadian Forces Base Trenton

HMCS Fredericton and TCG Salihreis train together with Italian ships Alpino and Federico Martinengo near the Italian coast on April 17. (facebook.com/NATOMaritimeCommand)

A ceremony to honour the lives of six Canadian military members who went down in a helicopter crash in the Mediterranean Sea was held aboard HMCS Fredericton on Sunday.

The CH-148 Cyclone crashed last Wednesday while taking part in NATO exercises. Three Nova Scotians were on board.

The body of one naval officer — Sub-Lt. Abbigail Cowbrough, a marine systems engineering officer on the Fredericton — was recovered almost immediately after the crash. She had lived in Dartmouth, N.S., for much of her life. 

The five others that were on board are presumed dead.

They are Capt. Brenden Ian MacDonald, a pilot originally from New Glasgow, N.S.; Sub-Lt. Matthew Pyke, a naval warfare officer originally from Truro, N.S.; Capt. Kevin Hagen, a pilot originally from Nanaimo, B.C.; Capt. Maxime Miron-Morin, an air combat systems officer originally from Trois-Rivières, Que.; and Master Cpl. Matthew Cousins, an airborne electronic sensor operator originally from Guelph, Ont.

Remains were recovered during the search for survivors. But they likely won't be identified until they are returned to Canada, Rear Admiral Craig Baines, commander of Maritime Forces Atlantic, said on Friday. 

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      The disembarkation ceremony to honour those in the crash went ahead at 11 a.m. local time while HMCS Fredericton was alongside Taranto, Italy, according to an email from the Department of National Defence. 

      The service was attended by several dignitaries, including Alexandra Bugailiskis, Canadian ambassador to Italy, and Rear Admiral Paolo Pezzutti, commander of 2nd Naval Division based in Taranto.

      Pezzutti  was acting as a representative of the Italian navy.

      Abbigail Cowbrough, seen in her Facebook profile photo, has been identified as one of the victims of a Canadian military helicopter crash in the Mediterranean on April 29. (Facebook)

      Cowbrough's remains are expected to depart Italy on a Canadian military aircraft in the coming days. 

      "There will be a formal ceremony held at Canadian Forces Base Trenton for all six fallen members, and to recognize the return of Sub-Lieutenant Cowbrough to Canada. This ceremony will take place later this week with families and friends of the fallen," said DND in an email. 

      Further details about the ceremony in Trenton are expected to be released in the coming days. 

      It's still not clear what caused the CH-148 Cyclone to crash, but the helicopter's flight data recorders were found in the debris and are to be analyzed at the National Research Council in Ottawa.

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