Their CH-53E Super Stallion disappeared Tuesday night as it flew from Creech Air Force Base northwest of Las Vegas to Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego. Search teams located the crashed chopper in a mountainous area near Pine Valley, California, on Wednesday morning, but heavy snow in the area made it difficult to reach the aircraft on the ground, officials said.
“It is with a heavy heart and profound sadness that I share the loss of five outstanding Marines from 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing and the ‘Flying Tigers’ while conducting a training flight last night,” Maj. Gen. Michael J. Borgschulte, commander of the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, said in a statement. “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.”
The names of the deceased personnel were not released in line with a policy of keeping private the identities of the fallen until 24 hours after next-of-kin notifications have been completed. “Efforts to recover the remains of the Marines and equipment have begun and an investigation is underway,” the statement added.