All 5 Marines In California Helicopter Crash Confirmed Dead
A CH-53E Super Stallion lands at Subic Bay Freeport Zone on April 23, 2023, as part of the US-Philippines joint military exercise 'Balikatan'.
JAM STA ROSA/AFP via Getty Images

The five Marines aboard a helicopter that went missing and was later found to have crashed in California earlier this week are dead, the U.S. military said Thursday morning.

The helicopter was flying from Creech Air Force Base in Nevada to Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego for a routine training exercise when it was reported as “overdue,” prompting a search and rescue operation. Authorities with the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department and the Civil Air Patrol found the CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter while searching a snowy mountainous region on Wednesday, The New York Times reported.

Hours later, the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing announced that all the Marines on board the helicopter were dead.

“It is with a heavy heart and profound sadness that I share the loss of five outstanding Marines from 3d Marine Aircraft Wing and the ‘Flying Tigers’ while conducting a training flight last night,” Maj. Gen. Michael J. Borgschulte said in a statement. “These pilots and crewmembers were serving a calling greater than self and were proud to do so.”

The U.S. military did not identify the five deceased Marines as policy requires their identities to remain concealed until 24 hours after all next-of-kin have been notified. As of Thursday morning, authorities were still working to recover the Marines’ remains and launch an investigation into what caused the deadly crash.

“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,” Borgschulte added.

President Joe Biden issued a statement Thursday saying he and first lady Jill Biden “are heartbroken at the loss of five U.S. Marines.”

“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.


The crash comes a month after six U.S. Navy crewmembers, who were operating an MH-60R Seahawk helicopter, survived a crash into the San Diego Bay and were rescued off the coast of Coronado by a nearby Navy vessel.

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