5 Marines Who Died In Tragic Crash Have Been Identified

Five marines who disappeared in a helicopter crash in the mountains outside San Diego, California, were confirmed dead, the military said on Thursday morning.

The Marines are Lance Cpl. Donovan Davis, 21, a crew chief from Olathe, Kansas; Sgt. Alec Langen, 23, a crew chief from Chandler, Arizona, Capt. Benjamin Moulton, 27, a pilot from Emmett, Idaho, Capt. Jack Casey, 26, a pilot from Dover, New Hampshire, and Capt. Miguel Nava, 28, a pilot from Traverse City, Michigan, according to a 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing news release Friday.

All were members of 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing’s Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 361, nicknamed the Flying Tigers.

“We have been confronted with a tragedy that is every service family’s worst fear. Our top priority now is supporting the families of our fallen heroes, and we ask for your respect and understanding as they grieve,” Lt. Col. Nicholas Harvey, the squadron’s commanding officer, said in the news release.

“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,” Harvey continued.

Marines have been at the crash site keeping watch over their remains day and night, despite rough weather, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing commander Maj. Gen. Michael Borgschulte said in a statement Thursday.

The five Marines had been on a routine training flight Tuesday from Creech Air Force Base, Nevada, to Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California, the Corps has said. But the aircraft never arrived at Miramar, the San Diego installation where their squadron is based.

That day, San Diego County was hit by a storm as Southern California was battered by a weather phenomenon called an atmospheric river. The service hasn’t said what may have caused the crash, which it is investigating.

President Biden said in a statement from the White House that he and the first lady, Jill Biden, were “heartbroken” over the loss.

“As the Department of Defense continues to assess what occurred, we extend our deepest condolences to their families, their squadron, and the U.S. Marine Corps as we grieve the loss of five of our nation’s finest warriors,” Biden said.

In 2016, 12 marines died when two CH-53E helicopters collided off the coast of Hawaii. In 2002, 2 Marines were killed, and five were injured when their helicopter crashed in the mountains of Afghanistan while carrying supplies to U.S. forces. In 2005, a CH-53E went down in western Iraq, killing 30 Marines and one sailor.