5 US Marines aboard helicopter that went down outside San Diego are confirmed dead, military says

Feb 8, 2024

San Diego: Five US Marines boarded a helicopter who went down during stormy weather out in the mountains San Diego Are confirmed deadThe military Said on Thursday. 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.
“It is with a heavy heart and deep sadness that I share the loss of five outstanding Marines from the 3d Marine Aircraft Wing and the “Flying Tigers,” Maj. Gen. Michael J. Borgschulte, commander of the 3d Marine Aircraft Wing, said in a 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” in getting to the crash site for searchers.
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.
Civilian authorities searching by ground and air found the plane, which had gone down in the mountains of Southern California about 45-miles (72-km) from San Diego during stormy weather.
The helicopter, which was designed to fly in harsh conditions, went missing after a historic storm brought heavy snowfall and record rainfall in California. More rain and snow fell in the area on Wednesday night, forcing searchers to battle heavy snow to reach helicopters.
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.
While it can carry dozens of people, according to the U.S. Navy website, the typical crew for the Super Stallion is four: a pilot, co-pilot, crew chief and mechanic/gunner.
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 cm) 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 km), 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,” according to the 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” due to the downwash of its three engines, the Super Stallion has a 50-mile (80.5-km) range. It was designed to carry 55 troops or about 16 tonnes (over 13,000 kg) of cargo, hung inside and outside the cabin.
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 Marines from Miramar died when their Super Stallion crashed near El Centro, near the California-Mexico border during a training mission. 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.

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