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Boise to build memorial to three victims of February helicopter crash

A new memorial is coming to Julia Davis Park to honor the lives of three Army National Guardsmen killed in a helicopter crash last month.

Boise City Council voted Tuesday to approve $75,000 for the construction of a “river node,” or a pathway off of the Greenbelt next to the Boise River. The circular paved area will include benches under the trees and will be designed in conjunction with the families of the service members killed in the February 2 training flight

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The crash, which investigators said occurred due to flying in dangerous weather conditions, claimed the lives of Chief Warrant Officer 4 Jesse Anderson, Chief Warrant Officer 3 George “Geoff” Laubhan and Chief Warrant Officer 3 Matthew Peltzer.

“The sudden loss of three fathers and servicemen from our community has affected many of our residents deeply,” Mayor Lauren McLean said in a news release last week. “This is a small way that we can honor their service to our city, state and country while creating a place of peace and reflection for all to visit.”

Mixed reactions from the community

The announcement of the memorial was not lauded by everyone in the community. Social media comments since the project’s announcement last week have expressed frustration that the city did not choose to create a memorial for a bigger group of people. Some commenters wanted the city to create one for the over half a million Americans who died from COVID-19, all veterans killed in the line of duty or the victims of an Apache crash out of Gowen Field that killed two Guard members in 2014.

At Tuesday’s meeting, both City Council President Pro Tem Lisa Sanchez and City Council Member acknowledged the feedback. Thomson suggested honoring Jon Hartway and Stein Gearhart, the victims of the 2014 crash, as well as those from the 2021 accident. His request was conveyed to the Parks & Recreation Department, who is overseeing the project.

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“I think it’s important, and I know from others in our community that their widows still live here, and it would be a great thing to consider and include them and any others past and future as part of this great memorial for these heroes in our community,” Thomson said.

Sanchez said she’s not sure how to address the problem, but she sympathizes with community members frustrated by the project.

“It is unfortunate when we try to honor a situation and the intention is 100% good that in that effort other people are made to feel excluded and that their loved ones don’t hold the same value,” she said. “I’m not sure the way around that, but it is important we convey that we have received those messages.”

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Margaret Carmel - BoiseDev Sr. Reporter
Margaret Carmel is a BoiseDev reporter focused on the City of Boise, housing, homelessness and growth. Contact her at [email protected] or by phone at (757)705-8066.

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