Town of Mendon will hold ceremony to honor victims of 2021 helicopter crash

MENDON, N.Y. — A ceremony will take place on Sunday, June 11 to honor the three local Army National Guard members who died in the 2021 helicopter crash in Mendon.

The ceremony will take place at the military memorial at Dreisbach Fields at 141 Semmel Rd in Honeoye Falls. It starts at 11 a.m.

The “Dust Off” Military Memorial opened on Memorial Day and is dedicated to fallen service members including the three National Guard members who died. The ten-member Citizens Advisory Committee for a Military Memorial advocated for the memorial.

During the ceremony, family members of the crash victims, Town Supervisor John Moffitt, and Adjutant NY Army National General Major General Ray Shields, will speak. The Gates Keystone Club Police Pipes & Drums will perform.

The National Guard members died when their Black Hawk helicopter crashed in January 2021 during a training exercise. It landed nose-down in a field off West Bloomfield Road.

Steve Skoda, 54 of Rochester, served in the Army for 35 years and was an experienced flight instructor. Daniel Prial, 30 of Rochester, was an Army captain who graduated from West Point Academy. Christian Koch, 39 of Honeoye Falls, served the National Guard for 20 years and was a pilot with the New York State Police aviation unit.

The New York Army National Guard said the cause of the crash was crew error while practicing a maneuver. A federal report released in April of 2023 said better access to flight simulators can help to prevent similar crashes.