They were Capt. Jack Casey, of Dover, New Hampshire; Lance Cpl. Donovan Davis, of Olathe, Kansas; Sgt. Alec Langen, of Chandler, Arizona; Capt. Benjamin Moulton, of Emmett, Idaho; and Capt. Miguel Nava, of Traverse City, Michigan, according to a statement from the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing.
The Marines all belonged to the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, and were assigned to Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 361, Marine Aircraft Group 16.
The men were traveling in a CH-53E Super Stallion from Creech Air Force Base North of Las Vegas, Nevada, to the Marine Corps air station in Miramar, California, where they were all stationed, when their aircraft was reported as overdue, according to a statement from the the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing.
Search teams were able to locate the downed aircraft on Wednesday, in a mountainous region near Pine Valley, California. The crash occurred while a winter storm moved through the area, so the aircraft was difficult to reach, officials said. When they reached the helicopter, it was covered in snow. It is unclear whether the inclement weather is what caused the crash, and an investigation is underway.
Lance Cpl. Donovan Davis had been promoted to that position on New Year’s Day, and was only 21 years old. He enlisted in 2019 and was a helicopter crew chief. All of them were young, the oldest being Capt. Miguel Nava, a pilot, who was 28. Moulton and Casey were also pilots, and Langen was a crew chief.
“We have been confronted with a tragedy that is every service family’s worst fear,” said Lt. Col. Nicholas J. Harvey, commanding officer of HMH-361, in the Friday statement. “Our top priority now is supporting the families of our fallen heroes, and we ask for your respect and understanding as they grieve.”
On Thursday, President Biden issued a statement mourning the loss of the five Marines killed. “Our service members represent the very best of our nation,” he said, “and these five Marines were no exception.”