The Marine Corps has disclosed the identities of five Marines who died in a CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter crash in the mountains near San Diego amid a severe storm.
All the fallen Marines, who were in their 20s, served with the Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 361, Marine Aircraft Group 16, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, stationed at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego.
Lt. Col. Nicholas J. Harvey, the squadron’s commanding officer, expressed the profound grief and solidarity within the military community, stating, “We have been confronted with a tragedy that is every service family’s worst fear. The Flying Tigers family stands strong and includes the friends and community who have supported our squadron during this challenging time. We will get through this together.”
Among the deceased, Lance Cpl. Donovan Davis, the youngest at 21 from Olathe, Kansas, had recently been promoted on New Year’s Day. The oldest, Capt. Miguel Nava, was 28 and hailed from Traverse City, Michigan. Davis and Sgt. Alec Langen, 23, of Chandler, Arizona, served as crew chiefs, while the others were CH-53E pilots. Langen’s mother, Caryn Langen, told KNSD-TV of San Diego, “We will miss him dearly.”
The tragedy unfolded late Tuesday night as the helicopter was en route back to Miramar from Creech Air Force Base, only to be found the following morning near Pine Valley. Col. James C. Ford, the operations officer with the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, confirmed that stormy weather contributed to the crash, which claimed all five Marines’ lives. Recovery efforts for their remains are expected to be lengthy due to the challenging terrain and weather conditions, with Marines vigilantly guarding their comrades’ remains to honor the ethos of never leaving a Marine behind.
An investigation into the crash is currently underway.
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