Army says five marines aboard missing helicopter have been confirmed dead


SAN DIEGO (AP) – Five U.S. Marines board a helicopter went down during stormy weather The military said Thursday that the dead had been confirmed in the mountains outside San Diego.

Officials say the CH-53E Super Stallion disappeared late Tuesday night while returning to Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego after training at Creech Air Force Base, northwest of Las Vegas.

Maj. Gen. Michael J., commander of the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing. “With a heavy heart and deep sadness I share the loss of five outstanding Marines from the 3d Marine Aircraft Wing and the “Flying Tigers,” Borgschulte said in a statement. statement.

The names of the Marines were not immediately released.

“To the families of our fallen Marines, we offer our deepest condolences and are committed to ensuring your support and care during this incredibly difficult time,” Borgschulte said. “While we understand the inherent risks of military service, any loss of life is always difficult.”

According to the statement, efforts to recover the remains of the five have begun and the accident is under investigation.

Wing spokeswoman Capt. Stephanie Leguizamon said she had little information beyond the statement.

“I know it’s cold… I know it’s been a controversial issue” for searchers in reaching the crash site.

President Joe Biden said in a statement that he and First Lady Jill Biden were “disheartened” to learn of the Marines’ deaths.

“Our service members represent the best of our nation — and these five Marines were no exception,” Biden said. “As the Department of Defense continues to assess what happened, we extend our deepest condolences to their families, their squadron, and the U.S. Marine Corps as we mourn the loss of five of our nation’s finest warriors.”

Mike Cornett of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection told CBS 8 News that the last known contact with the helicopter was around 11:30 p.m. Tuesday. That location was based on the “ping” reported to the Cal Fire dispatch center.

The ship was discovered Wednesday morning near the mountain community of Pine Valley, an hour’s drive from San Diego.

Civil authorities searched for the aircraft by land and air, which went down During storm season in the mountains of Southern California, about 45 miles (72 kilometers) from San Diego.

Helicopter, designed to fly in harsh conditions, goes missing as a historic storm hits Heavy snowfall and record rainfall in California, more rain and snowfall hit the field On Wednesday night, searchers had to battle heavy snow to reach the helicopter.

The five Marines were assigned to Miramar’s Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 361, Marine Aircraft Group 16, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, the Army said in a statement.

Although it can carry dozens of people, the typical crew components for the Super Stallion are four: a pilot, co-pilot, crew chief, and mechanic/gunner, according to A US Navy website,

The Army worked with federal, state and local agencies, including the U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Border Patrol, San Diego County Sheriff’s Department, and the State Civil Air Patrol.

But the weather and rough terrain made the work difficult. Pine Valley in the Cuyamaca Mountains is at an elevation of about 3,700 feet (1,127 meters), an area that received 8 inches (20 centimeters) of snow in a matter of hours Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, according to forecasters. More snowfall was observed. ,

The area includes San Diego County’s second-highest mountain, Cuyamaca Peak, at 6,512 feet (1,985 m), and is also adjacent to the Cleveland National Forest, which covers 720 square miles (1,860 square kilometers), most of which The run is steep, rocky and confined. Trails.

The CH-53E Super Stallion is the largest helicopter in the military and the Marines have used it for heavy lift around the world for more than three decades. More than 130 are in operation.

Equipped with GPS, infrared radar and other equipment, the aircraft “have conducted a full range of military combat missions in Beirut, Somalia, the Persian Gulf, Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya.” A US Navy website,

Approximately 99 feet (30 m) long, the Super Stallion could transport troops and equipment from ships to shore, deliver supplies and launch amphibious assaults.

Nicknamed the “Hurricane Maker” because of the downwash of its three engines, the Super Stallion has a 50-mile (80.5-kilometre) range. It was designed to carry 55 soldiers or about 16 tonnes (over 13,000 kg) of cargo with hanging inside and outside cabins.

With external loads, the helicopter can weigh up to approximately 35 tonnes (31,638 kg).

In January 1990, two CH-53E helicopters were used to rescue American and foreign allies from the U.S. Embassy in Mogadishu, Somalia’s civil war-torn capital.

The helicopter has been involved in several fatal accidents. In 2018, four sailors from Miramar died his super stallion crashed During a training mission, near El Centro, near the California-Mexico border. The Marine Corps denied pilot error for the crash. The victims’ families later sued the two companies, alleging that they had provided the defective part, which they blamed for the accident.

In 2005, a Super Stallion collapsed in a sandstorm in Iraq, killing 31 people aboard. The crash, which was attributed to pilot error, was the deadliest loss of life for American troops during the war.


Baldor reported from Washington. Associated Press writers Ken Miller in Edmond, Okla., and John Antzak in Los Angeles contributed to this report.


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