February 8, 2024

Helicopter with 5 Marines Goes Missing, Crew Confirmed Dead

The U.S. Marine Corps reported the discovery of a missing U.S. military helicopter transporting five Marines from Nevada to California.

The CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter belonged to Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 361, part of Marine Aircraft Group 16 within the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing. Departing from Creech Air Force Base and bound for Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, the aircraft was declared overdue on February 6, 2024.

Civil authorities located the helicopter in Pine Valley, California, on February 7, 2024.

The search and rescue operation is under the management of the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, coordinated through the Wings Operations Command Center. The collaboration included the San Diego County Sheriff's Department and various federal, state, and local agencies.

The Marines maintain communication with the San Diego County Sheriff's Office to synchronize search efforts. Due to heavy snow near Pine Valley, additional resources have been requested to aid in the search.

Initial attempts by local first responders were impeded by adverse weather conditions. However, efforts persisted despite challenges.

The White House has been briefed on the situation, with the National Security Council closely monitoring developments.

John Kirby, a spokesperson for the National Security Council, emphasized the administration's attentiveness to the matter and expressed hopes for a positive outcome. However, the five Marines were later confirmed as found dead. Their identities have not yet been revealed.

This incident follows a tragic event in December involving a U.S. Air Force Osprey crash off the coast of Japan, resulting in the loss of all eight crew members aboard.

The discovery of the missing helicopter underscores the inherent risks associated with military operations, highlighting the importance of swift and coordinated response efforts.

The dedication of search and rescue teams and ongoing communication between military and civilian entities exemplify the commitment to ensuring the safety and well-being of service members involved in such operations.

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