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.