‘A Night of Tributes’ hosted to honour five GDF fallen heroes at National Stadium
Family members, friends, and dignitaries gathered at the Guyana National Stadium, Providence, on Monday evening to honour the five Guyana Defence Force (GDF) ranks who perished in the tragic helicopter crash on December 6. Under the theme “Honouring Our Fallen Heroes,” the event served as a collective expression of grief and gratitude for the lives lost in service to the nation.
President Dr Mohamed Irfaan, Prime Minister Brigadier (Ret’d) Mark Phillips, Vice President Dr Bharrat Jagdeo, and other members of the Cabinet joined in paying their respects to the fallen heroes.
The ranks who perished in the crash were Brigadier (Ret’d) Gary Beaton, Colonel Michael Shahoud, Lieutenant Colonel Michael Charles, Lieutenant Colonel Sean Welcome, and Staff Sergeant Jason Khan, posthumously promoted to Warrant Officer Class 2.
Lieutenant Andio Crawford and Corporal Dwayne Jackson were the two survivors of the tragic incident which occurred on December 6.
During the event, Prime Minister Phillips delivered heartfelt remarks, reflecting on his close personal connections with each of the servicemen. He made special mention of Lt. Col. Charles and Brig. (Ret’d) Beaton who served with him during his tenure in the GDF.
“This was the best, the crème de la crème that we lost. We did the right thing by referring to them as our heroes.
“We celebrate men of valor, brave men, men who [went] beyond the normal call of duty, men who [were] committed.”
Addressing the grieving families, PM Phillips reassured, “We are all with you. We will continue to stand with you…As you grieve families, as you grieve, we grieve with you…We have lost some great men in this tragedy. May their souls rest in peace.”
Meanwhile, GDF’s Chief of Staff, Brigadier Omar Khan acknowledged that the departure of the officers has created a void in the force.
He affirmed that additional efforts will be made to support the immediate family members of the officers.
During the event, family members and colleagues of the servicemen reflected on their lives and military experiences. Heartfelt tributes were also paid through songs, dance, and spoken word poetry.