The following are officially released statements from the families of the aircrew lost in the MRH-90 crash in the Whitsundays on Friday 28 July 2023.
Captain Danniel Lyon, 6th Aviation Regiment, Australian Army
Captain Danniel Lyon was born in Dubbo and joined the Australian Army in 2010.
Captain Lyon deployed in support of the Whakaari/White Island operation in 2019 along with many other operational deployments.
Captain Lyon is a decorated pilot and highly respected troop commander within the Australian Army Aviation Corps.
Danniel is a beloved husband, devoted father of two and great mate.
Danniel’s smile could brighten even the darkest days.
His light shone so brightly we cannot imagine a world without it.
We offer our deepest sympathies to the loved ones of Danniel’s fellow crewmates as we share in their sorrow.
Lieutenant Maxwell Nugent, 6th Aviation Regiment, Australian Army
Daniel, Marianna and Sami Nugent and Chadine
Becoming an officer in the Army was a long-held dream for our son, brother and partner, Max. He made that dream a reality through stubborn grit, resilience and a wicked sense of humour. He embodied the values of integrity and honour, which made him a natural fit for a life of service to others.
Max was born at Wahroonga in northern Sydney in 1998, and grew up at West Pymble. He studied at Barker College, where he thrived as a member of the Australian Army Cadets; he loved adventuring out in the dirt and mud. Tall, gangly and geeky, he had no business playing high school rugby, and yet he did. Max was tough. If somebody told him he couldn’t do something, he took it as challenge and persisted with unshakable determination until he had proved them wrong.
He appointed as an officer in the Australian Army in July of 2018 and attended Duntroon in Canberra. As graduation approached he had his choice of corps, deciding aviation was the place he most wanted to be. He just barely fit in below the height limit for pilots. Earning his pilot’s wings on the PC-21 at East Sale, Max was commended by his instructors, standing out even amongst the high calibre of his peers. He qualified on helicopters at HMAS Albatross, then converted to the Taipan at Oakey. It was here that his technical inclination came to the fore, knowing the complex aircraft front to back, inside and out.
He always sought to develop and improve as a pilot and officer, seeking feedback and constructive criticism from his colleagues. He earned praise for his fantastic hand and feet skills on the controls, a natural aviator.
On completion of training Max posted to 5th Aviation Regiment in Townsville, which is where he met Chadine. The two bonded over a love of dogs and dumplings. When he posted to Sydney with 173 Squadron at 6th Aviation Regiment, Chad moved down with him. They were planning a life together and hoped to get a dog, which they joked they would name ‘Dumpling’.
Max expressed his love for others through acts of service. The eldest child in his extended family, he was adored by his grandparents, uncles, aunts and younger cousins, and he reciprocated in kind. He was his dad’s best mate, they loved to watch sport together. He gave great hugs to his mum and others by resting his chin on the top of their head. In social settings he was a larrikin and stirrer, happy to set himself up to be the butt of a joke. His sister Sami adds Max just as quickly made her, or somebody else, the butt of the next joke, too.
Our Max fitted so much living into his 24 years. He got to live his dream. He loved flying, and Army life was everything he hoped it would be. He was straight as an arrow, stubborn, reliable, hilarious, generous and a radiant light in our lives. His loss leaves an unbearable grief in our hearts.
WO2 Phillip Laycock, 6th Aviation Regiment, Australian Army
Joseph Wayne Laycock and Dr Dianne Laycock
Our son, Phillip, had two loves in his life – his military career and his three boys.
Phillip came into the world in Goulburn in 1980, inheriting the family Christian name Joseph as the eldest child. He was joined by brother Stephen a few years later. Growing up he was serious-minded and dutiful, with an exacting eye for detail.
Our family lived in Dubbo for much of the boys’ childhoods, where we worked as a police officer and a teacher respectively. Phillip had an early interest in aviation, which was fostered through the Australian Air Force Cadets, where their father volunteered as a cadet instructor.
Phillip enlisted in the Australian Army in November of 1999 as a combat engineer. He trained in Sydney before posting to 3rd Combat Engineer Regiment in Townsville, and subsequently deploying to Timor-Leste as part of the United Nations peacekeeping mission.
Phillip retrained as an Army Aviation Loadmaster in 2004, serving in turn with 5th Aviation Regiment’s A-Squadron, 171 Aviation Squadron at 6th Aviation Regiment, and the Army Aviation Training Centre. While at 6th Aviation Regiment he was joined by brother Stephen, who was also an aircrewman. This led to occasional confusion with not one but two Laycocks on site.
It was in Townsville that Phillip met his now-former wife, and mother of his children, Megs. The two parted ways some years ago, but remained amicable and shared a commitment to their children’s upbringing.
Serving in postings at HMAS Albatross in Nowra and in Canberra, our son shared his deep experience with others, before returning most recently to 171 Squadron as a senior aircrewman.
Outside of his Army career, Phillip was a devoted father and enthusiastic mountain biker. He was an excellent cook, and prepared the family’s Christmas dinner on a number of occasions, with the same meticulous precision he brought to his work – he would shoo us out of the kitchen if we threatened to interfere.
In 2014 our son was named Army’s Aviation Corps ‘Soldier of the Year’ for his performance as Squadron Aviation Aircrewman Instructor. He received the Conspicuous Service Medal in 2016 for ‘meritorious achievement in the performance of duty as the Squadron Aviation Aircrewman Instructor in the 171 Aviation Squadron, 6th Aviation Regiment’. We are immensely proud of the high esteem in which he was held by his mates and superiors.
As well as us and his brother Stephen, Phillip leaves behind three sons, aged between seven and 11, who live on the NSW South Coast with their mother, and share their dad’s love of mountain biking.
We have been left devastated by the loss of our son and extend our most heartfelt sympathies to the loved ones of Phillip’s crewmates.
Corporal Alex Naggs, 6th Aviation Regiment, Australian Army
Corporal Alexander Naggs will always remain a beloved partner, son, brother and friend.
Alex was a hard-working, generous and kind man who was always there for his mates.
Alex was an inspiration to his family and those around him.
We are heartbroken to lose him so soon.
Alex was a private person and I ask that his and our privacy is respected as we take things one day at a time.
We offer our thoughts to the families of Alex’s crew mates at this time.