Monday, February 26, 2024

Update: 5 Marines Dead After Helicopter Crash East of San Diego

A U.S. Marine Corps CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter with Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron (HMH) 465, Marine Aircraft Group 16, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, conducts evasive maneuver drills during a unit training exercise near Creech Air Force Base, Nevada, Dec. 7, 2023. HMH-465 conducted unit level training to increase core proficiency in evasive maneuvers. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Jackson Rush)

Five U.S. Marines on board a helicopter that crashed east of San Diego were pronounced dead Thursday.

“Our service members represent the very best of our nation—and these five Marines were no exception,” President Joe Biden said in a statement. “Today, as we mourn this profound loss, we honor their selfless service and ultimate sacrifice—and reaffirm the sacred obligation we bear to all those who wear the uniform and their families.”

The Marines were flying a CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter during a routine training flight on Feb. 6 when they went missing. That same day, San Diego County was battered by a winter storm that prompted heavy rain, flash flood warnings, and a rare tornado warning in East County.

The helicopter was later found near Pine Valley. The Marines on board were assigned to Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 361, Marine Aircraft Group 16, and 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing. The military has not yet released their identities.

“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,” said Maj. Gen. Michael J. Borgschulte, commanding general of 3rd MAW, in a 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. To the families of our fallen Marines, we send our deepest condolences and commit to ensuring your support and care during this incredibly difficult time.”

Efforts to recover the remains of the Marines and equipment have begun and an investigation is underway.

This story has been updated. The original article is below:

A missing military helicopter has been found near Pine Valley, but the five U.S. Marines on board have not yet been found.

The helicopter was flying to Marine Corps Station Miramar on Feb. 6 when it was reported overdue. The empty aircraft was found at around 9 a.m. on Feb. 7, the Department of Defense reports.

Search and rescue is underway to locate the Marines, who were assigned to Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 361, Marine Aircraft Group 16, and 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing.

The Marines were flying a CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter during a routine training flight when they went missing. That same day, San Diego County was battered by a winter storm that prompted heavy rain, flash flood warnings, and a rare tornado warning in East County.

The 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing is managing search and rescue efforts through the Wing Operations Command Center and using ground and aviation assets. The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department and multiple federal, state, and local agencies are also involved.

 



Megan Kitt
Megan Kitt
Megan has worked as a reporter for more than 15 years, and her work in both print and digital journalism has been published in more than 25 publications worldwide. She is also an award-winning photographer. She holds BA degrees in journalism, English literature and creative writing and an MA degree in creative writing and literature. She believes a quality news publication's purpose is to strengthen a community through informative and connective reporting.Megan is also a mother of three and a Navy spouse. After living around the world both as a journalist and as a military spouse, she immediately fell in love with San Diego and Coronado for her family's long-term home.Have news to share? Send tips, story ideas or letters to the editor to: [email protected]

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