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943rd RQG gathers to remember Pony 1-2

943rd Rescue Group unit members render salutes during at the start of the PONY 1-2 memorial ceremony Sept. 12 at Heritage Park, Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz. 943rd RQG Airmen past and present gathered to remember the men who died during a nighttime training mission aboard a CH-3E Jolly Green Giant Helicopter, call sign PONY 1-2. (U.S. Air Force Photo/ Tech. Sgt. Carolyn Herrick)

943rd Rescue Group unit members render salutes during at the start of the PONY 1-2 memorial ceremony Sept. 12 at Heritage Park, Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz. 943rd RQG Airmen past and present gathered to remember the men who died during a nighttime training mission aboard a CH-3E Jolly Green Giant Helicopter, call sign PONY 1-2. (U.S. Air Force Photo/ Tech. Sgt. Carolyn Herrick)

The Davis-Monthan Air Force Base Honor Guard prepare to posts the Colors at a memorial ceremony in honor of the 15 men who died in the crash of PONY 1-2 March 12, 1989. The ceremony was held at Heritage Park on Davis-Monthan AFB at Heritage Park in front of a static display of CH-3E Jolly Green Giant helicopter similar to the own flown by the aircrew of flight PONY 1-2. (U.S. Air Force Photo/ Tech. Sgt. Carolyn Herrick)

The Davis-Monthan Air Force Base Honor Guard prepare to posts the Colors at a memorial ceremony in honor of the 15 men who died in the crash of PONY 1-2 March 12, 1989. The ceremony was held at Heritage Park on Davis-Monthan AFB at Heritage Park in front of a static display of CH-3E Jolly Green Giant helicopter similar to the own flown by the aircrew of flight PONY 1-2. (U.S. Air Force Photo/ Tech. Sgt. Carolyn Herrick)

943rd Rescue Group Airmen bowed their head in prayer during the memorial ceremony that honored the 15 men who died in the CH-3E Jolly Green Giant helicopter crash on March 12, 1989 during a nighttime mission. The ceremony paid tribute to the men of PONY 1-2 and provided an opportunity for 943rd RQG Airmen to reflect upon the history of the unit. (U.S. Air Force Photo/ Tech. Sgt. Carolyn Herrick)

943rd Rescue Group Airmen bowed their head in prayer during the memorial ceremony that honored the 15 men who died in the CH-3E Jolly Green Giant helicopter crash on March 12, 1989 during a nighttime mission. The ceremony paid tribute to the men of PONY 1-2 and provided an opportunity for 943rd RQG Airmen to reflect upon the history of the unit. (U.S. Air Force Photo/ Tech. Sgt. Carolyn Herrick)

etired Chief Master Sergeant Craig Bergman speaks during the memorial ceremony that honored the 15 men who died in the CH-3E Jolly Green Giant helicopter crash on March 12, 1989 during a nighttime mission. Airmen past and from the 943rd Rescue Group paid tribute to the men who lost their lives on PONY 1-2 in a remote desert region 20 miles northwest of Tucson. (U.S. Air Force Photo/ Tech. Sgt. Carolyn Herrick)

etired Chief Master Sergeant Craig Bergman speaks during the memorial ceremony that honored the 15 men who died in the CH-3E Jolly Green Giant helicopter crash on March 12, 1989 during a nighttime mission. Airmen past and from the 943rd Rescue Group paid tribute to the men who lost their lives on PONY 1-2 in a remote desert region 20 miles northwest of Tucson. (U.S. Air Force Photo/ Tech. Sgt. Carolyn Herrick)

Army Staff Sergeant Maurice Liggins, a recruiter from the Tucson Recruiting Company, and Senior Airman Christopher Martin, 305th Rescue Squadron aviation resource manager render salutes at the static display model of a CH-3E Jolly Green Giant helicopter similar to the own flown by the aircrew of flight PONY 1-2 at Heritage Park, Davis-Monthan AFB. 943rd RQG Airmen past and present gathered to remember the men who died during a nighttime training mission aboard a CH-3E Jolly Green Giant Helicopter. (U.S. Air Force Photo/ Tech. Sgt. Carolyn Herrick)

Army Staff Sergeant Maurice Liggins, a recruiter from the Tucson Recruiting Company, and Senior Airman Christopher Martin, 305th Rescue Squadron aviation resource manager render salutes at the static display model of a CH-3E Jolly Green Giant helicopter similar to the own flown by the aircrew of flight PONY 1-2 at Heritage Park, Davis-Monthan AFB. 943rd RQG Airmen past and present gathered to remember the men who died during a nighttime training mission aboard a CH-3E Jolly Green Giant Helicopter. (U.S. Air Force Photo/ Tech. Sgt. Carolyn Herrick)

The Davis-Monthan Air Force Base Honor Guard prepare to fire shots during a rifle salute at the memorial ceremony that honored the 15 men who died in the CH-3E Jolly Green Giant helicopter crash on March 12, 1989 during a nighttime mission. Airmen past and from the 943rd Rescue Group paid tribute to the men who lost their lives on PONY 1-2 in a remote desert region 20 miles northwest of Tucson. (U.S. Air Force Photo/ Tech. Sgt. Carolyn Herrick)

The Davis-Monthan Air Force Base Honor Guard prepare to fire shots during a rifle salute at the memorial ceremony that honored the 15 men who died in the CH-3E Jolly Green Giant helicopter crash on March 12, 1989 during a nighttime mission. Airmen past and from the 943rd Rescue Group paid tribute to the men who lost their lives on PONY 1-2 in a remote desert region 20 miles northwest of Tucson. (U.S. Air Force Photo/ Tech. Sgt. Carolyn Herrick)

DAVIS-MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. -- Airmen past and present from the 943rd Rescue Group gathered at Heritage Park Sept. 12 to honor and remember the 15 lives that were lost in the line of duty during a nighttime training mission more than 27 years ago.

 The memorial service coincided the same weekend as the 943rd Rescue Group Family Day and Rescue Reunion held on September 12, which allowed current and former unit members to reflect upon the tragedy and also honor the history and heritage of the 943rd RQG.

 On Sunday evening, March 12, 1989, while participating in a joint-service training exercise, four aircrew members from the Air Force Reserve's 71st Special Operations Squadron, now known as the 943rd RQG, and 11 soldiers from the 5th Special Forces Group from Fort Bragg, N.C., died in the crash of a CH-3E Jolly Green Giant Helicopter, tail number 65-05692, call sign PONY 1-2. The crash happened in a desolate desert region 20 miles northwest of Tucson.