Maj. Gen. Michael J. Borgschulte said the Marines had been “conducting a training flight” when the crash happened
Five U.S. Marines, who were reported missing after their downed helicopter was found in Pine Valley, Calif. on Wednesday morning, have died, Marine officials confirmed.
The 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing announced in a Thursday update on social media, that five of its Marines died following the crash of their CH-53E helicopter.
Maj. Gen. Michael J. Borgschulte, the commanding general of the Marine’s fleet shared in a statement that the Marines had been a part of the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing and the “Flying Tigers,” who are “forward deployed in special purpose Marine Air Ground Task Forces and Marine Expeditionary Units alongside joint U.S. forces,” according to their website.
He said that they had been “conducting a training flight” when the crash happened, though he did not give details on the cause of the crash or aftermath.
“These pilots and crew members were serving a calling greater than self and were proud to do so,” Borgschulte said in his statement. “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,” he added, while noting that the identities of the Marines would not be disclosed until all their family members were notified.
Borgschulte added that “efforts to recover” the Marines’ remains and equipment “have begun” and an investigation is underway.
Authorities announced in a prior press release that they received a call about a missing military helicopter at 1 a.m. local time on Wednesday morning and dispatched search and rescue teams at about 3 a.m., who located the Marines’ aircraft just after 9:00 a.m.
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The CH-35E Super Stallion helicopter took off from Creech Air Force Base in Clark County, Nevada, and was headed to Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego, CBS News reported.
Authorities said at the time that the crew had been deemed missing, and several agencies including the San Diego County Sheriff's Department, Civil Air Patrol, the United States Border Patrol BORSTAR unit, CalFire and the US Forest Service all aided in the search to find the missing marines.
Tough conditions initially made the search difficult as the weather forecasted “a mixture of snow and rain,” and 4x4 Jeeps had to be used to search the area’s “difficult and muddy terrain.”
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