The U.S. Marine Corps announced on Thursday that all five of the Marines who were on a military helicopter that went down east of San Diego had been officially declared dead.
Tuesday night, on a “routine training flight” from Creech Air Force Base, northwest of Las Vegas, to their home base at Miramar Marine Corps Air Station in San Diego, their CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter was reported missing.
Their identities are yet to be realeased.
The helicopter was discovered on Wednesday morning in a mountainous region about 35 miles east of San Diego, according to a press statement.
Winter weather and rugged terrain made the search more difficult.
A winter weather warning for elevations of 4,000 feet and higher was in effect for the area, according to The Weather Channel. There was a forecast for six to ten inches of snow along with 60 mph gusts.
First Lady Jill Biden and President Biden both expressed in a statement how “heartbroken” they were at the Marines’ loss.
“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.”
UPDATE: Identities revealed
They were identified by the Marine Corps on Friday as Sgt. Alec Langen, 23, of Chandler, Arizona; Capt. Benjamin Moulton, 27, of Emmett, Idaho; Capt. Miguel Nava, 28, of Traverse City, Michigan; and Capt. Jack Casey, 26, of Dover, New Hampshire.
According to his parents, Langen, who joined the Corps in 2017 and was the flight’s crew chief, wed the love of his life in January. The first person to text Langen’s mother after he failed to return home was his wife.
Like his father, he had always wanted to serve in the Marines.
His father, Steve Langen, told KGTV, “I would give anything to be able to trade places and just have him come home.”
‘He died with people he wanted to be with, doing what he loved and wanted to do.’
In May 2019, Casey became a member of the Corps and was awarded the National Defense Service Medal. According to 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing authorities, Davis enlisted in September 2019 and has been recognized with multiple awards, including the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal.
In March 2019, Moulton received both a commission in the Corps and the National Defense Service Medal. Nava joined the Corps in May 2017 and was awarded various honors in addition to the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal.
The Marines were all stationed at Miramar and belonged to Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 361, Marine Aircraft Group 16.
‘Our fallen warriors’ fellow Marines have remained by their side – as Marines do – taking shifts throughout the night at the mishap site, keeping watch over them, despite the hazardous weather conditions,’ the commanding general of the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing said on Thursday night.
‘Our fallen Marines were – and continue to be – guarded by their brothers and sisters.’
President Joe Biden said the fallen Marines were ‘our nation’s finest warriors’.
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