Westmincom honors 4 airmen who died in Basilan chopper crash
ZAMBOANGA CITY—The Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) on Thursday (Sept. 17) honored four airmen who died in a helicopter crash in Basilan province last Wednesday (Sept. 16).
“Team Westmincom commiserates with the family of the fallen airmen who dedicated their lives in serving their fellow Filipinos,” said Maj. Gen. Corleto Vinluan Jr, Westmincom commander.
Maj. Jessie Miller, 1Lt. Mack-ar Ferrer, SSgt. Miguel Banas Jr. and Airman 2Cl Benedicto Leal, Jr. were killed when the Sikorsky ambulance helicopter they were riding crashed in Lantawan town, Basilan.
They were en route to Jolo, Sulu to airlift a blast victim to Zamboanga City when they ran into bad weather over Basilan.
Departure honors, led by Vinluan, were accorded the fallen airmen on Thursday afternoon, as their flag-draped caskets were prepared for transport.
Miller, Ferrer and Banas were flown to Manila while Leal is set to be brought to his hometown in Zamboanga Sibugay province.
“Our salute to Maj. Miller, 1Lt. Ferrer, SSg. Bañas, and A2C Leal for their gallantry and heroism,” Vinluan said.
“They may be physically gone but their unfailing service will remain in our hearts forever,” he added.
Miller is from Capas, Tarlac; Ferrer, Pasay City; Bañas, Lipa City, Batangas and Leal, Naga town in Zamboanga Sibugay.
On Thursday, the Philippine Air Force (PAF) grounded its Sikorsky helicopters following the crash in Basilan while an investigation is ongoing, according to Maj. Al-Nasser Abdurakman, spokesperson of the PAF’s Edwin Andrews Air Base.
Abdurakman said Col. Jose Bonifacio Calub, commander of the PAF’s 505th Search and Rescue Group, is leading the investigation.
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