Memorial set up at site of helicopter crash that killed 3 Guardsmen

Patrick Moussignac
Created: January 25, 2021 06:14 PM

MENDON, N.Y. (WHEC) — A temporary memorial has been set up to remember the three New York National Guardsmen who were killed in last week's helicopter crash in Mendon.

The memorial was created by four friends who wanted to help the community heal, as the soldiers' families continue to mourn their loss. 

There's some talk already about turning the crash site into a bigger, and more permanent memorial. For now, people can visit the site to remember all three victims.  

It's a simple statue that says a lot when you look at it. A plywood cutout of a soldier kneeling at a cross to say a prayer for the fallen, and surrounded by American flags. Marvin Vahue, and his three friends Corey Gates, Mark Windchip, and Jerry Fox helped create it before setting it up on Sunday near the crash site off West Bloomfield Road.

"It's a great tribute to the families especially the kids. It's a terrible thing. A sad thing," Vahue said.

Killed in last week's crash were Chief Warrant Officers Christian Koch, Steven Skoda and Daniel Prial. Vahue says others gave as well to help make this memorial for these soldiers happen.

"We had some donations of the poles, and the flags from Home Depot, and the generator has been given to us to borrow. So we're just putting fuel in it, light 'em up at night so it really looks nice," Vahue said.

For most of the day, some people stopped to visit the memorial. Laurene Hofman visited the site for a more personal reason. She's been a friend of Koch's brother, Scott, for many years.

"I didn't know his brother Christian, but I imagine he's a good guy too, and I just feel heartbroken for his family, and for his wife, and for his children," Hofmann said.

Vahue owns the land where the chopper went down. He told News10NBC that he grows wheat, and soybeans there. Once the Department of Conservation removes the contaminated dirt and replaces it, he would like to put a permanent memorial there

"I thought it would be a good spot for that right here in front where it could be seen, rather than back where the chopper went down," Vahue said.

Koch, Skoda and Prial were on a routine training mission when their helicopter crashed last Wednesday. Investigators are still searching for the cause.


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