Five Marines aboard a CH-53 Super Stallion that went down in a remote area of Southern California late Tuesday are confirmed to be dead, service officials said Thursday.
“It is with a heavy heart and profound sadness that I share the loss of five outstanding Marines from 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing [MAW] and the ‘Flying Tigers’ while conducting a training flight [Tuesday] night,” Major General Michael Borgschulte, commanding general of 3rd MAW, said in a statement. “These pilots and crewmembers 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.”
The aircraft and aircrew assigned to Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 361, Marine Aircraft Group 16, 3rd MAW had been reported missing after being declared overdue in returning to San Diego.
The 3rd MAW coordinated search-and-rescue efforts with the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department and the Civil Air Patrol, targeting a remote area of Pine Valley, California. However, access to the search area was a challenge due to bad weather, including snow, according to local media reports.
An investigation is underway, and search-and-rescue efforts have transitioned to a recovery mission for crew remains and the aircraft, the Marine Corps said.