U.S. military chief extends condolences over deaths in chopper crash

01/03/2020 02:21 PM
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The U.S. flag at the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) in Taipei
The U.S. flag at the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) in Taipei's Neihu District is flown at half-mast on Friday. Photo courtesy of the AIT

Washington and Taipei, Jan. 3 (CNA) General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the United States, expressed condolences Thursday over the death of Taiwan's Chief of General Staff Shen Yi-ming (沈一鳴), who was among eight people killed in a Black Hawk helicopter crash in New Taipei earlier in the day.

"On behalf of the men and women of the United States military, I want to send our condolences to members of the Taiwan military on the tragic loss of General Shen and the seven other victims in a helicopter accident," Milley said in a statement.

In the message, he said Shen was an exceptional leader and a champion of Taiwan's defense and regional security.

"We are grateful for the service he rendered so selflessly and cherish our friendship and strong relations with Taiwan," Milley said.

Shen, 62, along with 12 other military personnel, was traveling on the UH-60M Black Hawk helicopter to a military base in Dong'ao, Yilan County, for a pre-Lunar New Year inspection, when the chopper crashed in the mountains of Wulai. The other five people were later pulled alive from the wreckage and taken to hospital.

Also on Thursday, Rupert Hammond-Chambers, president of the U.S.-Taiwan Business Council (USTBC), issued a statement, mourning the loss of the eight Taiwanese military officers.

"USTBC, our members, and the entire U.S. defense community are saddened by this terrible tragedy," Hammond-Chambers said. "We mourn those lost, and hope for a swift recovery for the five survivors."

U.S.-based think tank the Project 2049 Institute, meanwhile, expressed condolences to the families and loved ones of those lost in the accident.

"The eight military officers who perished in the crash, including Chief of the General Staff General Shen Yi-ming, devoted their lives to ensuring the freedom, safety, and security of Taiwan's 24 million people," Richard L. Armitage, chairman of the institute, said in a statement.

On Friday, the U.S. flag at the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) in Taipei's Neihu District was flown at half-mast to mourn those who died in the helicopter crash in New Taipei.

According to the Ministry of National Defense (MND), Deputy Chief of General Staff Admiral Liu Chih-pin (劉志斌) was named acting chief of general staff on Thursday to ensure the continued functioning of the country's military.

(By Chiang Chin-yeh, Matt Yu, Elaine Hou and Ko Lin)

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