Today marks the 16th anniversary of the tragic crash of the Irish Air Corps Rescue Helicopter 111 in the sand dunes of Tramore Beach, Co. Waterford in 1999.
As I walked down the Promenade here in Tramore early this morning, my thoughts were with the families, friends and colleagues of the four crew members who were killed on that dark, dark day in Irish aviation history.
The four brave men who died on their way home from a rescue mission in dense fog were:
Sgt. Patrick Mooney, Stamullen, Co. Meath ~ aged 34
Capt. Dave O’ Flaherty, Tullamore, Co. Offaly ~ aged 30
Capt. Michael Baker, Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford ~ aged 28
Cpl. Niall Byrne, Killiney, Co. Dublin ~ aged 25
These men will never, ever be forgotten by the people of Tramore and there is intense goodwill and love for the Rescue Helicopter and its crews, based at Waterford Airport, which serve us all with such heart, altruism and skill.
But, today, let us remember, and give thanks to, those four young men who paid the ultimate price in the service of others.