“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,” said Maj. Gen. Michael J. Borgschulte, the commanding general of the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, in the statement.
“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,” Borgschulte added.
The five Marines' identities will not be released publicly until 24 hours after their next-of-kin have been notified, the statement confirmed. The CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter was reported to have disappeared while en route back to the Marine Corps Air Station Miramar after training at Creech Air Force Base just outside Las Vegas on Tuesday (February 6).
Wreckage was located near Pine Valley, about an hour away from San Diego, on Wednesday (February 7). A search for the Marines' remains and an investigation into the cause of the crash is ongoing, the military branch confirmed in its statement.