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Blackhawk Crash Memorial Planned

Louisiana National Guard

A group of young professionals in Santa Rosa County are planning construction of a memorial to the helicopter crash off Navarre last March.

Four crewmen from Louisiana National Guard and seven Marines were killed when their UH-60 Black Hawk went down into Santa Rosa Sound during a night training mission on March 10th.

“At the time the helicopter crossed over from the land to water, the pilots encountered serious weather – fog – and became disoriented as to their position,” said Col. Pete Schneider with the Louisiana Guard, who issued the official statement on the cause of the crash in June.

“The investigation determined that [they tried] to navigate the aircraft with visual references instead of going to their instruments,” said Schneider. “This disorientation eventually led them to put the aircraft in a position that was unrecoverable.”

“Leadership Class 29 was on its way to Tallahassee when the accident happened,” said Kristin Loera, a staffer at the Gulf Breeze Chamber of Commerce who is a member of that class. “One of our classmates with the Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Department was not able to join us because he had to work the [crash] scene.”

After hearing the news, the class decided that raising money and building a memorial to the fallen troops would be their project of choice.

Armed with a general idea of how the monument should look, the leadership class has issued a Request for Proposal – RFP – for artists to submit pitches for both the construction and pricing. Loera says there are some ground rules.

“We’re trying to stay within a $100,000 budget,” Loera said. “There are a lot of things that we’re looking for, such as other projects that artist have worked on that are similar to this. There’s going to be a lot of different elements, including a bronze relief and some emblems.”

Leadership Santa Rosa Class 29 will review the proposals, then make their recommendation to the Santa Rosa County Commission to finalize the project. After that, the class will make the final decision.

Completion of the memorial is expected in about 18 months. More information is available online at www.Navarreblackhawkmemorial.com.