06 Sep 1979: During an external operation in Mozambique, code-named Ops Uric, a SAAF Puma helicopter, Serial No. 164 carrying 14 members of the Rhodesian Armed Forces, was shot down near Mapai in Mocambique. Approximately 5km from the target area, the low-flying helicopter armada overflew a small satellite air-defence base that had been abandoned by most of the defenders as soon as the initial Hunter strikes had attacked the Brigade HQ at Mapai earlier that morning. A lone Frelimo soldier, armed with an RPG-7 rocket launcher who had remained at his post he took aim and fired his rocket towards the massed aircraft just as they drew level with his position. The PH-7 Anti-Tank Rocket struck the right side of the last helicopter in the nearest formation and exploded immediately behind the pilot’s seat and simultaneously igniting the fuel in the tank situated behind the pilot as well as the explosives that were being carried on board. The stricken Puma 164 rolled immediately to the right and plunged into the ground, exploding on impact in a huge ball of flame and oily black smoke. All on board perished in one of the greatest single tragedies of the Rhodesian Bush War. The bodies were never recovered but were located in an expedition into the area on 13 April 2009 and memorial stones and a memorial cross were erected over the graves of all these casualties.
The casualties were:
19 Squadron South African Air Force:
70388152PK Captain (Pilot & A/C Commander) Paul Denzil Velleman. He was 25.
74299181PS Lieutenant (Co-Pilot) Nigel David Osborne. He was 22.
Sergeant (Flight Engineer) Dirk Wilhelmus Marthinus Retief. He was 29.
1 Commando Rhodesian Light Infantry:
780949 Captain Johannes Matheus du Plooy. (South African National)
729689 Corporal Gordon Hugh Fry. (South African National)
124307 Trooper Jacobus Alwyn Briel (South African National)
730092 Trooper Aiden James Coleman. (South African National)
123929 Trooper Jeremy Mark Crow. (South African National)
119928 Trooper Brian Louis Enslin. (South African National)
729937 Trooper Stephen Eric King. (South African National)
123027 Trooper Colin Graham Neasham. (South African National)
730099 Trooper David Rex Prosser. (South African National)
1 Squadron and Directorate Rhodesian Corps of Engineers:
Captain Charles David Small. (South African National)
2/Lieutenant Bruce Fraser Burns. (South African National)
Sergeant Michael Alan Jones. (South African National)
Corporal Leroy William Duberly. (South African National)
Lance Corporal Peter Fox. (South African National)