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Germany remembers U. S. Army helicopter crash victims on 50th anniversary ;Reserve native Eric Landry among victims honored

RESERVE — On August 18, 1971, a U. S. Army Chinook helicopter carrying 37 soldiers on a training mission exploded in midair and crashed in a ball of fire. Thirty-three members of the Second Battalion 45th Infantry Regiment of the 56th Field Infantry Brigade along with four members of the Fourth Aviation Company all died in the crash in Pegnitz, Germany. It became known as the largest training accident in Europe since World War II.

Among them was Reserve native, Eric Landry, age 23, a graduate of Leon Godchaux High School and a student at Southeastern University. He was the son of Gertie and Vincent Landry.

Several decades ago, the people of Pegnitz built a monument to the victims using parts of the downed helicopter. This year added a rotor blade of the helicopter along with a plaque of the names of the soldiers.

In solemn, daylong ceremonies with military dignitaries present and family members from around the world, Pegnitz citizens honored the 37 victims of the crash. Soldiers exited a Chinook helicopter carrying a memorial wreath which was placed at the site. The Pegnitz Chaplain said the invocation and prayer, and a CH-47 did an overflight. A wreath laying ceremony and unveiling of a new commemorative plaque and CH-47 Rotor Blade began the day. A reception was given by the mayor of Pegnitz.