The Marine Corps said the five crew members inside a helicopter that had a "mishap" near Pine Valley, California, were pronounced dead, officials said early Thursday.
The 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing said on X that civil authorities located the aircraft Wednesday morning, about eight hours after it went missing.
The search for the missing CH-53E Super Stallion in the East County area started around 1 a.m. Wednesday. The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department received a call from the Marine Corps about an hour later asking for their assistance.
“It is with a heavy heart and profound sadness that I share the loss of five outstanding Marines from #d Marine Aircraft Wing and the 'Flying Tigers' while conducting a training flight last night. 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. 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.” said Maj. Gen. Borgschulte, 3rd MAW Commanding General.
The Marines said that identities of deceased service members are not released until 24 hours after all next-of-kin notifications have been completed.
The Marine Corps has not said what caused the CH-53E Super Stallion's mishap. Conditions were considered snowy at the time of the crash.
President Joe Biden issued a statement following the Marines' announcement.
"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," President Biden said. "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. 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."
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