Grieving Families Mourn as Five Marines Declared Dead in California

( – A helicopter crash in Southern California in the mountains in San Diego claimed the lives of five marines.

The fatal accident took place during rough weather. The five-man crew were on a training flight that started in Nevada at Creech Air Force Base and with an intended destination of San Diego’s Marine Corps Air Station in Miramar. Military rescuers started at search at 1 am on Wednesday, February 7th; the crash occurred sometime after 11:30 pm Tuesday.

Investigators found the downed chopper at about 9 am Wednesday, and have confirmed the deaths and the identities of the crew.

The fallen marines were: Sgt. Alec Langen of Arizona; Capt. Benjamin Moulton of Idaho; Lance Cpl Donovan Davis; Capt. Miguel Nava of Michigan; and Jack Casey of New Hampshire. It was a young crew; the downed men ranged in age from 21 to 28 years old.

Strong storms in Southern California had moved in while the helicopter was in flight and likely had a role in the fatal crash. The weather conditions also hampered search efforts, which were already encountering arduous conditions in the mountainous area where the aircraft went down.

Major General Michael Borgschulte delivered the grim news “with a heavy heart and profound sadness.” He said the helicopter crew was doing their duty and obeying “a calling greater than self.” He expressed his “deepest condolences” to the families of the men and said the military was committed to supporting and caring for the families in the aftermath.

Several grieving family members are speaking out in anger and grief, with some questioning if the mission should have been approved given the turbulent atmospheric conditions the helicopter encountered.

Sgt. Alec Langen’s father, Steven Langen, said the Marines should “wake the f— up” and ask “What are we doing to our service members?”

Though a rough-weather phenomenon known as an “atmospheric river” is suspected as a contributing factor, there is no word yet on the official cause of the crash.

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