A search and rescue operation concluded Thursday that the five US Marines who were aboard a Sikorsky CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter, flying from Creech Air Force Base in Clark County, Nevada, to Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego, died when the aircraft went down during stormy conditions in the mountains outside of San Diego.
“It is with a heavy heart and a profound sadness that I share the loss of five outstanding Marines,” Maj. Gen. Michael Borgschulte, commanding general of the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, wrote in a statement.
Borgschulte continued: “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.”
Update: The five 3rd MAW Marines have been confirmed deceased.
“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.” -Maj. Gen. Borgschulte, 3rd MAW Commanding General pic.twitter.com/CBLs2jDKWG
— 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing (@3rdmaw) February 8, 2024
MCAS Miramar revealed search and rescue operations found the heavy-lift helicopter approximately 35 miles east of San Diego around 0900 local time Wednesday.
The search-and-rescue units, involving ground and aviation teams, worked in poor weather conditions with snow and low cloud coverage as an atmospheric river storm battered the region.
There’s no word on whether the helicopter experienced a mechanical failure or if weather-related issues were to blame.