The military helicopter went missing in California amid severe storms
The five U.S. Marines aboard a helicopter that went missing on a trip from Nevada to California were confirmed dead on Thursday.
First responders found the crashed CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter following hours of searching on Wednesday, but they did not find the crew until Thursday morning.
“It is with a heavy heart and profound sadness that I share the loss of five outstanding Marines from the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing and the “Flying Tigers” while conducting a training flight last night,” Maj. Gen. Borgschulte, Commanding General for the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, said in a statement.
“These pilots and crew members 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,” he added. “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.”
The U.S. military does not reveal the identities of deceased service members until at least 24 hours after all next-of-kin notifications have been made.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre confirmed Wednesday that President Biden had been briefed on the situation, and Biden released a statement after the Marines’ deaths were confirmed.
“Jill and I are heartbroken at the loss of five U.S. Marines, whose aircraft crashed while flying from Nevada to California during a routine training mission. 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 a statement.
“I am deeply grateful to the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department, the U.S. Air Force Auxiliary-Civil Air Patrol, and other federal, state, and local agencies for their professionalism and dedication in supporting search and recovery efforts. Our service members represent the very best of our nation, and these five Marines were no exception. 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,” he continued.
The CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter had departed Creech Air Force Base in Nevada en route to Marine Corps Air Station Miramar near San Diego Tuesday night.
Local first responders were first contacted regarding the incident early Wednesday morning. The San Diego Sheriff’s Office attempted to send a helicopter to begin the search immediately, but the aircraft was called off due to the “atmospheric river” storm hitting the area.
The incident comes roughly two months after a U.S. Air Force Osprey crashed off the coast of Japan in December. All eight crew members aboard the craft were killed in the incident.