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Saturday, April 13, 2024

Military Confirms Death of 5 Marines in Helicopter Crash near San Diego

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SAN DIEGO — The U.S. military⁤ confirmed on ⁢Thursday the tragic loss of five Marines who were aboard a helicopter ⁣that⁢ crashed during⁤ a storm in the mountains outside of San Diego.

The CH-53E Super Stallion, the ⁣helicopter⁤ in question, disappeared late Tuesday night while returning to Marine Corps Air Station Miramar ​in San Diego after a training session at Creech Air Force⁣ Base, located northwest of Las Vegas.

“It is with ⁢immense sorrow and deep regret that I announce the passing of five exceptional Marines from the 3d Marine Aircraft Wing and the⁣ ‘Flying Tigers’,” stated Maj. ‌Gen. Michael J. ​Borgschulte, the commander of the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing.

The identities of the fallen Marines have not been disclosed yet.

“Our hearts‍ go out ‌to the families of our fallen⁣ Marines, and we pledge our unwavering support and⁣ care‌ during this incredibly challenging period,” Borgshulte expressed. “While we ‌acknowledge the inherent risks associated with military service, ⁢the ‌loss of life is always a ‍devastating blow.”

According to the statement, the process of recovering the remains ⁣of the five Marines has commenced, and an⁣ investigation into the cause of the crash is currently underway.

Capt. ⁣Stephanie Leguizamon, the wing’s spokesperson, admitted ⁤to having limited information beyond the official statement. ⁣She did, however, ‌mention the challenging weather conditions faced by the search teams trying to reach the⁤ crash site.

President‌ Joe Biden expressed his sorrow over the incident in a statement, stating that he and first lady Jill Biden⁢ were “heartbroken” to hear about the Marines’ deaths.

“Our service members embody the very best of our ​nation — and these five Marines​ were no ‍exception,” Biden said. “As the Department of Defense continues its investigation into the incident, we extend our deepest sympathies​ to their families, their squadron, and the U.S. Marine Corps as we⁣ mourn the loss of five of our nation’s bravest warriors.”


Our​ service members⁤ embody the very best of our nation — and these five Marines were no exception.

–Pres. Joe ⁢Biden


The last known​ contact with the helicopter was⁤ around 11:30 p.m. Tuesday, as reported by Mike Cornette of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection to CBS 8 news.⁤ This information was based on a “ping” reported to a Cal Fire dispatch center.

The helicopter⁣ was found ​on Wednesday⁢ morning near Pine Valley, ‍a mountain community about an hour’s drive from San Diego.

The⁤ aircraft, which was designed to operate in harsh conditions, went missing during a historic storm⁢ that brought heavy snow and record rainfall over California.⁤ The search teams had to battle ​through heavy snow to reach⁢ the helicopter.

The five​ Marines ⁤were​ part of Miramar’s Marine⁣ Heavy Helicopter Squadron 361, Marine Aircraft Group 16,​ 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, as per the military’s statement.

The ⁣Super Stallion, which can⁤ carry dozens of people, typically has a crew of four: a pilot, copilot, crew chief, ⁢and mechanic/gunner, according to a U.S. Navy ‍website.

The CH-53E Super Stallion is the military’s largest helicopter and has been used⁢ by​ the Marines for heavy-lifting duties worldwide for over three decades. ⁢More than 130 are currently in operation.

With its GPS, infrared radar, and other equipment,⁤ the‍ aircraft has been involved in “a full range of military⁤ combat operations in Beirut, Somalia, the Persian Gulf, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya,” according to a U.S. Navy website.

Measuring about 99 feet long, the⁢ Super Stallion is capable ​of moving troops and equipment‍ from ships to shore, ferrying supplies, and launching amphibious assaults.

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