Five Marines disappeared when their helicopter didn’t arrive at its intended location after a standard training exercise. Collaborating with the Civil Air Patrol and the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department, the military worked to locate the missing individuals. Tragically, all five were pronounced deceased after the helicopter was discovered in a secluded, mountainous region. Investigators are currently piecing together the events leading up to the incident.
On February 6, the five individuals were journeying from Creech Air Force Base, situated close to Las Vegas, to Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, near San Diego. They were part of the Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 361 and were undergoing training that evening aboard a CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter. Concern arose when they failed to arrive at their destination within the expected timeframe.
The Marine Corps initiated search efforts for the missing servicemen, but they sought additional support from the sheriff’s office, which deployed another helicopter around 1:50 a.m. Unfortunately, search operations were impeded by an atmospheric river storm that brought heavy rains and even caused flooding in certain regions. Consequently, the department transitioned to off-road vehicles to navigate the challenging terrain and sustain the search efforts.
The crashed helicopter was located approximately at 9:00 a.m. on February 7, but additional time was required to retrieve all of the bodies.
The recent heartbreaking event adds to a series of fatal accidents involving military aircraft. According to Military.com, in November, an MH-60 Black Hawk crashed into the Mediterranean Sea, claiming the lives of five Army soldiers. Prior to that, in the same month, the US military halted all operations of its Osprey V-22 helicopters following a crash caused by material failure, resulting in the deaths of eight Air Force personnel.
Additionally, in January, a Navy helicopter crash off the coast of California claimed the lives of five service members, while six others survived. The identities of the most recent victims will not be disclosed until 24 hours after officials have informed all their next of kin.