Lieutenant Commander Darren Chapman, Royal Navy, was the Commanding Officer of 847 Naval Air Squadron based at Yeovilton. He was aged 40, and was married with three children.
Having worked his way up through the ranks from Able Seaman, Darren assumed command of 847 Naval Air Squadron in December 2005, having previously served as a staff officer within the Joint Helicopter Command. Recently qualified on the Lynx Mk7, he had extensive experience as a helicopter pilot and was a Qualified Helicopter Instructor and Helicopter Warfare Instructor. Most of his flying experience was on the Sea King Mk4 Commando helicopter and he had served with the Commando Helicopter Force squadrons and on exchange with the United States Marine Corps. He had extensive operational experience, serving as a Sea King pilot in the first Gulf campaign in 1991, on operations in the Balkans during the mid-1990s, returning to Iraq for Operation Telic in 2003; he had recently arrived back in Iraq for this latest deployment. He had also served as the Senior Pilot of 845 Naval Air Squadron in 2001.
Colonel John McCardle Royal Marines, Commanding Officer of the Commando Helicopter Force, said of him:
"Darren was a consummate professional and was highly regarded by all of his Squadron personnel and also within the broader helicopter community. A larger than life character, he had a tremendous ability to make people laugh and could communicate easily with those in his charge, regardless of rank. Our thoughts are with his adored wife Liz and his beloved children Chloe, Ben and Georgina."
The family of Lieutenant Commander Chapman have issued the following statement:
"We are deeply shocked and devastated at the untimely and tragic loss of Darren. He was a fantastic father, husband, son and friend who was deeply committed to family life; always there for those who needed him, nothing was ever too much trouble.
"Outgoing, gregarious and always joking, he was the consummate entertainer who touched and enriched many peoples’ lives. Equally committed to his life as an Officer in the Fleet Air Arm, he adored flying in the Service and we can rest assured that he died doing the job that he so loved.
"Our thanks go to all for the kind thoughts and messages we have received and we would ask that our family’s privacy is respected to allow us time to grieve."