Service to honor fallen National Guard members will be held at Rochester airport

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — A memorial is in the works to honor the three fallen National Guard soldiers who died last month after a helicopter crash in Mendon.

National Guard officials say the memorial service to honor the fallen soldiers will be held at the newly renamed Frederick Douglass Greater Rochester International Airport.

Col. Richard Goldenberg told News 8 Friday:

“The New York National Guard is planning a memorial service for our Soldiers and the families to honor the three aviators who died in the January 20 helicopter crash in Mendon. After positive discussions with community representatives, the unit determined that the best course of action is to hold the event at our flight facility at Rochester International Airport.”

Further details regarding the memorial service in regards to date, time and attendance are forthcoming.

54-year-old Steven Skoda of Rochester, 39-year-old Christian Koch of Honeoye Falls, and 30-year-old Daniel Prial of Rochester, were killed when their UH-60 medical evacuation helicopter was on a routine training mission when it crashed in a farmer’s field along West Bloomfield Road near Cheese Factory Road.

MORE | National Guard identifies 3 local soldiers killed in military helicopter crash in Mendon

The have been some changes to the memorial service, which was originally scheduled for February 26 at the Blue Cross Area. The wife of Christian Koch confirmed on Friday that there seemed to be a problem with the venue.

“I just found out earlier today, not even an hour ago, that the location is having to be moved,” Koch’s wife Teressa DaGama said. “In that case the event won’t be at the same magnitude as it would have been. I know they have ben planning it for the past four weeks, it’s just been over four weeks since the accident . I was just told there was a last minute road block with some money. “

Officials from the Blue Cross Arena provided this statement Friday:

Our sincere condolences go out to all of our local National Guard members and the families of our Fallen Guardsmen. Officials from Blue Cross Arena at the War Memorial worked diligently with officials from the National Guard, New York State and Monroe County to develop a plan to hold the memorial for our local Fallen Guardsmen at the arena. While we were engaged in the planning process, the National Guard informed us that due to time constraints and additional planning needs, it would be best for their personnel to hold the memorial at a National Guard facility.

Monroe County Legislators Frank Allkofer, George Hebert and R. Edwin Wilt weighed in on the matter earlier on Friday in a statement:

“Where there’s a will, there’s a way. Everyone must band together in support of a proper ceremony for the three National Guardsmen who tragically passed last month. Both the County Health Department and State have indicated that a memorial can be held safely at Blue Cross Arena. These individuals sacrificed so much to ensure the protection of all, both at home and abroad; they deserve to have their memory honored. Monroe County must do everything in our power to ensure that a proper memorial is held for our community to pay respect to these three Guardsmen.

National Guard officials said they thanked the Blue Cross Arena for working with them, but decided they are going to hold the event at a National Guard Facility at the Rochester airport.

This is a developing story. News 8 WROC will provide updates as they become available.

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