FORT POLK, La. -- During the early morning hours of Aug 18, 1973 a Chinook helicopter carrying 37 American Soldiers crashed near Pegnitz, Germany, just off the autobahn north of Nuremberg, Germany. The Soldiers were on their way to the Grafenwoehr Training Area, the largest training area in Europe, to conduct a live fire training exercise.
Of the dead, 33 Soldiers were from the Mortars platoon, Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment, stationed at Kornwestheim, Germany. The four remaining Soldiers who died in the crash were the Chinook's crew.
On Aug 18, 2014 2nd Bn., 4th Inf. Reg., 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division held its first annual memorial to honor these fallen Soldiers on the tragic crash's 43rd anniversary.
"The Army life is important, it is honorable, and there are distinctions in this life that make the value of the Soldier worth it all, and that is why we wanted to hold this memorial so that we can express to the Soldiers of our current battalion the value of Soldiers both past and present," said Chaplain (Capt.) Jason Heneise, 2nd Bn., 4th In Reg., 4th BCT, 10th Mtn. Div.
In the quiet forest, just outside Pegnitz, sits three large boulders and the blade of a helicopter. This monument, named Fischelhohe, was dedicated by the German people as a reminder of what happened on Aug 18, 1971.
It was important for the 2nd Bn., 4th In Reg. to use their Mortar platoon as a way of honoring the mortar men that died in the crash and to let the Soldiers of the battalion see the face of a person when they think of these fallen Soldiers of yesteryear.
"I want the Soldiers to remember this platoon and to think about the fact that it could have been anyone of them. We used Mortar men to represent each one of the Mortar men that was killed in this accident," said Lt. Col Mark Leslie, commander 2nd Bn., 4th In Reg., 4th BCT, 10th Mtn. Div. "I tried to get the Soldiers to relate to this accident. This could be us at any time. Your service is valuable, whether you die in peacetime or you die in combat, you still die in the service of your nation and that's worth being remembered."