“Ongoing Search for Missing Marines After Helicopter Discovery in Southern California
Pine Valley, Southern California – The search intensifies for five US Marines as their military helicopter, a CH-53E Super Stallion, was discovered in Pine Valley, approximately 30 miles east of Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego. The aircraft was found by civil authorities at 9 a.m. PT on Wednesday, after the Marines failed to arrive at their scheduled destination from Creech Air Force Base near Las Vegas.
The Marines were on a routine training flight Tuesday night when they were reported overdue, according to a statement from the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing. The condition of the helicopter remains undisclosed at this time.
The CH-53E Super Stallion is a heavy-lift helicopter capable of transporting troops and equipment, with a cargo capacity of up to 16 tons, as stated by the US Navy. The missing Marines belong to Heavy Helicopter Squadron 361, Marine Aircraft Group 16, confirmed Marine Capt. Stephanie Leguizamon.
The search operation, led by the Marine Corps in collaboration with the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department and other agencies, is underway. The Marines’ last communication was recorded at 11:20 p.m. Tuesday, amidst challenging weather conditions, with winds gusting up to 20 mph and precipitation, including snow at higher elevations.
The CH-53E Super Stallion has been involved in previous incidents, with two fatal crashes over the past decade. In 2016, 12 Marines lost their lives in a collision between two CH-53E helicopters during a night training exercise off Hawaii. Two years later, four crew members died in a Super Stallion crash during a training mission near El Centro, California.
Despite the history of accidents, there have been instances of miraculous survival, such as the 2014 incident in Djibouti, where 25 Marines and Navy sailors survived a crash as a CH-53E attempted to land on an amphibious transport dock at sea after a training exercise. The ongoing search raises concerns, and the Marine Corps is actively working to locate the missing crew members.”
Missing Marine helicopter found in California, but the search continues for 5 Marines in the snow-covered mountains outside of San Diego pic.twitter.com/gnCXy4PjMJ
— Ryan Smith (@RyanReports) February 8, 2024