WATERTOWN — The remains of two of three National Guardsmen killed in a Western New York helicopter crash last week were escorted Tuesday to a funeral home on South Massey Street where they’ll be prepared for burial.
As heavy snow fell on a small group of state troopers and National Guard members outside Hart & Bruce Funeral Home, two hearses, each carrying a fallen hero, sat parked to the right of the home. Everyone was silent as six Guardsmen removed the bodies of Chief Warrant Officer 5 Steven Skoda and Chief Warrant Officer 2 Daniel Prial from the vehicles and into the funeral home.
Each casket was wrapped in a United States flag as a symbol of their service to the country.
A procession, led by state police, departed from the Monroe County Medical Examiner’s Office at about 11 a.m. and arrived in the city just before 2 p.m. Tuesday.
Chief Warrant Officers Skoda, 54, of Rochester, and Prial, 30, also of Rochester, have no ties to the area, but were ceremoniously delivered to the city funeral home Tuesday as the home is contracted by the Army to prepare deceased soldiers for final internment.
Three National Guard soldiers were killed Jan. 20, when the helicopter they were flying in crashed in Mendon, Monroe County.
“These soldiers were a part of our National Guard family and we mourn their loss, alongside their family members and loved ones,” Col. Richard Goldenberg, the New York National Guard public affairs officer, said last week.
The third Guardsman killed was Chief Warrant Officer 4 Christian Koch, 39, of Honeoye Falls, Monroe County.
The helicopter was on a routine training mission when it crashed at 6:32 p.m., according to a statement from the state Division of Military and Naval Affairs.
The helicopter was a UH-60 medical evacuation helicopter based at the Army Aviation Support Facility at Rochester International Airport. The aircraft was assigned to C Company of the 1st Battalion, 171st General Support Aviation Battalion.
Once preparations are complete at the funeral home, the remains of CW5 Skoda and CW2 Prial will be escorted by members of their unit to their final resting places.
CW5 Skoda’s will be interred at Gerald B.H. Solomon Saratoga National Cemetery, Schuylerville, Saratoga County, and CW2 Prial’s will be interred at West Point Cemetery, West Point, Orange County, according to the Fort Drum Public Affairs Office.
Funeral arrangements for CW4 Koch are being handled by John W. Martin Funeral Home in Mount Morris, Livingston County. The funeral home previously indicated a small, private ceremony for family and friends will be held Friday with military honors in Caledonia, also in Livingston County. The funeral home has not posted information on internment, but did note a memorial will be scheduled in the near future once COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.
The investigation into the crash is ongoing.