See full statement from the Leader of the Opposition Aubrey Norton:
It is a sad day for all Guyanese. It is with deep sadness in our hearts and anguish in our souls that we learnt that the missing GDF helicopter had crashed and five brave Guyanese souls perished.
We extend our deepest condolences to the family of Lt Col. Michael Charles, Commanding Officer of the 1st Infantry Battalion, Colonel Michael Shahoud, Retired Brigadier Gary Beaton, Lieutenant Colonel Sean Welcome, and Staff Sergeant Jason Khan. We will forever honor these current and former army officers as genuine and brave sons of the soil who gave dedicated service and their lives in defense of our dear homeland, Guyana.
Yesterday, from the moment we heard of the missing helicopter, all Guyanese hoped and prayed for the best outcome for the entire crew. Alas, it was not to be. Their services to their country and to their fellow citizens were needed elsewhere. May their spirits rest in peace! May they continue to fight the good fight!
We wish the surviving army officer, Lieutenant Colonel Andio Michael Crawford and Corporal Dwayne Jackson, a full and speedy recovery. We share the mixed emotions of their families. Our thoughts and prayers are also extended to you.
We expect that the survivors and their families will have the full support of the GDF in particular, and the Government of Guyana in general, as they seek to overcome the trauma associated with the accident.
To the entire GDF officer corps and servicemen, we stand with you in this moment of bereavement. At this moment when our country is under threat from abroad, we know you are standing resolute and brave, despite the loss of your comrades. Please be reassured of our support and appreciation of the great sacrifice you continue to make to defend our territorial integrity and sovereignty. For that we are eternally grateful.
The Parliamentary Opposition expects that there will be a thorough investigation into the accident with the aim of ensuring the safety of our troops in the future.
In this time of bereavement, all Guyanese have lost as we mourn with the families and friends of the deceased. May their souls rest in peace!