5 U.S. Marines Confirmed Dead After Helicopter Crash

Marine Corps Air Station Miramar (MCAS) is shown in San Diego on on Aug. 25, 2023. Credit - Nelvin C. Cepeda/The San Diego Union-Tribune—AP

Five Marines who were aboard a helicopter that went missing after a crash Tuesday are dead, the Marine Corps confirmed in a press release.

“It is with a heavy heart and profound sadness that I share the loss of five outstanding Marines from 3d Marine Aircraft Wing and the “Flying Tigers” while conducting a training flight last night,” Maj. Gen. Michael J. Borgschulte said in the statement, dated Wednesday. “These pilots and crew members were serving a calling greater than self and were proud to do so. We will forever be grateful for their call to duty and selfless service. 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.”

Efforts to recover the remains of the Marines and an investigation were underway, the statement read. The names of the deceased will not be released until 24 hours after all next of kin are notified.

The CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter was reported missing early Wednesday morning in California. Around eight hours later, shortly after 9 a.m. local time, the aircraft was located near Pine Valley, where it was reportedly last seen, but the people on board had not yet been located.

The helicopter was taking a routine flight from the Creech Air Force Base in Nevada when it went missing. Troops had planned to return to the Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego.

The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department was notified shortly after 1 a.m. that the aircraft was overdue for arrival. The Department initially planned to send its own helicopter to conduct a search, but poor weather prevented an aircraft from conducting a search in the region, a spokesperson from the Sheriff’s Department told TIME. The National Weather Service of San Diego previously reported heavy downpours in the area, with possibilities of hail. Cal Fire said that heavy snowfall made search efforts difficult, according to a tweet.

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