Military and Defense

Five Marines Dead After Helicopter Crash, Military Confirms

Five Marines missing since early Wednesday morning died in a helicopter crash during training, the military confirmed in an emailed statement on Thursday.

Authorities located the remains of a CH-53E Super Stallion heavy lift helicopter near Pine Valley, California, on Wednesday after initiating a search when the aircraft did not arrive at its destination on time. Recovery efforts are still underway for the remains of the five Marines and equipment lost in the crash Tuesday night, the Marine Corps’s 3 Marine Aircraft Wing said in the statement.

“It is with a heavy heart and profound sadness that I share the loss of five outstanding Marines from 3d Marine Aircraft Wing and the ‘Flying Tigers’ while conducting a training flight last night,” Maj. Gen. Michael J. Borgschulte, the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing’s commanding general, said in the statement.

“These pilots and crewmembers were serving a calling greater than self and were proud to do so. We will forever be grateful for their call to duty and selfless service,” Borgschulte said.

The deceased Marines were assigned to Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 361, Marine Aircraft Group 16 with the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, according to the statement. The service will not release the names of the fallen troops until 24 hours after notifying their closest family members, the statement read, citing the military’s usual policy.

The service has initiated an investigation into the incident, the statement read.

A CH-53E Super Stallion heavy lift helicopter departing from Creech Air Force Base in Clark County, Nevada, on Tuesday was overdue on Wednesday morning at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego, the Marine Corps said in a statement Wednesday.

The Marine Corps requested help from local officials around 2 a.m. Wednesday, saying the aircraft’s last known location was Cleveland National Forest near Pine Valley, California, according to local news outlet ABC 10.

Authorities found the helicopter in Pine Valley, California, at 9:08 a.m. Pacific Standard Time.

President Joe Biden said he was “heartbroken” by the news and thanked local, state and federal agencies, including the Civil Air Patrol and San Diego County Sheriff’s department, for assisting in the search.

“As the Department of Defense continues to assess what occurred, we extend our deepest condolences to their families, their squadron, and the U.S. Marine Corps as we grieve the loss of five of our nation’s finest warriors,” Biden said in the statement.

Live-Fire and Evasive Maneuvers
#PacificMarines with HMH-465, MAG-16, @3rdmaw, conduct evasive maneuver drills during an exercise near Creech Air Force Base, Nevada, Dec. 7.
@USMC photo by Lance Cpl. Jackson Rush

— Pacific Marines (@PacificMarines) December 19, 2023

Poor weather conditions limited the search, ABC 10 reported. Heavy rain bombarded the area overnight from a massive storm passing through the area, and San Diego remains under a flood warning , according to the National Weather Service.

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