Family of Master Cpl. Matthew Cousins says he brought out ‘best’ in others

The family of Canadian Armed Forces member Master Cpl. Matthew Cousins, who was killed in a recent helicopter crash overseas, says he was a devoted husband and father who “thrived” in his career.

Cousins’s family released a statement through the Forces on Friday, two days after the wreckage of the Canadian military helicopter and human remains were located on the bottom of the Ionian Sea.

Originally from Guelph, Ont., Cousins was one of six Canadian military members who were aboard the CH-148 Cyclone when it crashed on April 29 off the coast of Greece during NATO exercises.

The body of Sub-Lt. Abbigail Cowbrough was recovered almost immediately after the crash. The partial remains of one of the Cyclone’s pilots, Capt. Brenden Ian MacDonald, also was retrieved from the crash scene.

The remaining members on board the flight — Capt. Kevin Hagen, Capt. Maxime Miron-Morin, Sub-Lt. Matthew Pyke and Cousins — are considered missing and presumed dead.

Cousins ‘thrived’ in new trade: family

The family said Cousins served in the military for 26 years.

He went from a reserve infantryman, to a regular force resource management support clerk, and eventually an airborne electronic sensor operator, which was his role on the Cyclone.

The “adventure of the sea and working with the Air Force” was just what Cousins was looking for, his family said. 

His family said Cousins had just completed his training and set sail shortly after being posted to 12 Wing Shearwater in Nova Scotia to use his new skills on the HMCS Fredericton.

“His trade was the best thing that ever happened to him during his career. Although it was challenging to say the least, he proved himself everyday and thrived,” the statement said.

Family was important to him, the statement said, describing Cousins as a “devoted” husband, amazing father, son, brother, colleague and friend to many. 

A member of the 110 branch of the Royal Canadian Legion in Trenton prepares a flag to salute before a repatriation ceremony for the six Canadian Forces personnel killed in a military helicopter crash in the Mediterranean, at Canadian Forces Base Trenton, Ont., earlier this month. (Carlos Osorio/Reuters)

‘He had a way of understanding people’

Cousins’s son describes him as his mentor, who “has always wanted to be like his Dad.”

His daughter describes him as “unique,” and while his humour may have been “a little off centre” it was always timed well.

Cousins had many talents, which were often coupled with his quick sarcasm and “a smile that could light up a room” even in the darkest times.

“He had a way of understanding people, a way that could bring the best out in others, and a rugged determination to achieve any goal he set,” the statement said.

These qualities saw him through milestones like finishing an Ironman competition at CFB Petawawa, or starting a band with close friends. 

Cousins’s family also sent its “deepest condolences” to the families of the other military members lost in the crash.

Recovery process continues

The Department of National Defence has been unable to say whether the human remains found this week are the missing crew.

The recovery and salvage drone located large pieces of the fuselage in 3,143 metres of water.

The search for more debris and remains will continue over the next few days. 

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