5 missing Marines confirmed dead following helicopter crash

Five missing Marines have been confirmed dead more than 24 hours after their helicopter crashed during a training flight, the U.S. Marine Corps said Thursday.

The Marines had been reported missing when their CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter was “reported overdue” to Marine Corps Air Station Miramar Tuesday night. The helicopter departed from Creech Air Force Base near Las Vegas and was en route to Miramar, in the San Diego area.

PHOTO: Sailors prepare to chock and chain a CH-53E Super Stallion during flight operations aboard the amphibious transport dock ship USS San Antonio in this U.S. Navy file photo.

Sailors prepare to chock and chain a CH-53E Super Stallion during flight operations aboard the amphibious transport dock ship USS San Antonio in this U.S. Navy file photo.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Terah Mollise/U.S. Navy, FILES

PHOTO: A CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter assigned to Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 165 lands on the flight deck of the amphibious assault ship USS Peleliu in a U.S. Navy file photo.

A CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter assigned to Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 165 lands on the flight deck of the amphibious assault ship USS Peleliu in a U.S. Navy file photo.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Sarah Bitter/U.S. Navy, FILES

The Marines launched a search and asked for help from the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department and Civil Air Patrol.

The sheriff’s department said it received a call at 1:50 a.m. and sent its own helicopter to search, but the helicopter wasn’t able to reach the area due to the atmospheric river storm hitting the region. The sheriff’s department said it then sent off-road vehicles to navigate the rough terrain.

The Marines said the helicopter was discovered at 9:08 a.m. Wednesday.

PHOTO: San Diego County Sherriff's Department officers take part in a search and rescue operation for five missing Marines who were on board a missing military helicopter that was found in Southern California, Feb. 7, 2024.

San Diego County Sherriff’s Department officers take part in a search and rescue operation for five missing Marines who were on board a missing military helicopter that was found in Southern California, Feb. 7, 2024.

Maria Villalobos/ABC News

Efforts are ongoing to recover the five victims’ remains, the Marines said Thursday, and an investigation is underway.

President Joe Biden said he is “heartbroken,” noting that the training mission was “routine.”

“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 a statement. “I am deeply grateful to the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department, the U.S. Air Force Auxiliary-Civil Air Patrol, and other federal, state, and local agencies for their professionalism and dedication in supporting search and recovery efforts.”

“We will forever be grateful for their call to duty and selfless service,” Maj. Gen. Michael J. Borgschulte said in a statement. “To the families of our fallen Marines, we send our deepest condolences and commit to ensuring your support and care during this incredibly difficult time.”

ABC News’ Fritz Farrow contributed to this report.

First appeared on abcnews.go.com

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