Officials on Friday identified five Marines who died when the CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter carrying them crashed in the mountains of Southern California.
Authorities launched a search for the Marines after they left Nevada’s Creech Air Force Base on Tuesday en route to California’s Marine Corps Air Station Miramar. On Wednesday, officials said their helicopter was “reported overdue” as heavy rain and strong winds from an atmospheric river storm pounded parts of Southern California.
On the morning of Wednesday, searchers found the CH-54E Super Stallion helicopter the Marines were traveling in. The next day, authorities confirmed their deaths.
The five were identified as
- Lance Cpl. Donovan Davis, 21, of Olathe, Kansas: A CH-53E helicopter crew chief who enlisted in the Marine Corps on Sept. 3, 2019.
- Sgt. Alec Langen, 23, of Chandler, Arizona: A CH-53E helicopter crew chief who enlisted in the Marine Corps on Oct. 1, 2022.
- Capt. Benjamin Moulton, 27, of Emmett, Idaho: A CH-53E helicopter pilot who commissioned in the Marine Corps on March 29, 2019.
- Capt. Jack Casey, 26, of Dover, New Hampshire: A CH-53E helicopter pilot who commissioned in the Marine Corps on May 16, 2019.
- Capt. Miguel Nava, 28, of Traverse City, Michigan: A CH-53E helicopter pilot who commissioned in the Marine Corps on May 26, 2017.
Family members earlier confirmed Langen’s death to reporters in San Diego, saying that he had recently married and always wanted to be a Marine like his dad, Steve Langen.
“I would give anything to be able to trade places and just have him come home,” Steve Langen told KGTV. He added, “He died with people he wanted to be with, doing what he loved and wanted to do.”
The five were assigned to Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 362, Marine Aircraft Group 16, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing. They were taking part in a routine training flight Tuesday when their helicopter crashed, officials said.
“We have been confronted with a tragedy that is every service family’s worst fear,” Lt. Col. Nicholas J. Harvey, commanding officer of HMH-361, said Friday in a news release.
“Our top priority now is supporting the families of our fallen heroes, and we ask for your respect and understanding as they grieve. The Flying Tigers family stands strong and includes the friends and community who have supported our squadron during this challenging time. We will get through this together.”
Maj. Gen. Michael Borgschulte, commanding general of the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, called the incident a “tragic mishap” on Thursday, adding that it will be “thoroughly investigated to identify the causes, learn from then, and take action to reduce future mishaps.”
He earlier shared condolences for the families affected by the crash.
“These pilots and crewmembers were serving a calling greater than self and were proud to do so,” he said. “We will forever be grateful for their call to duty and selfless service.”
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