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Search Continues in Military Crash off Fla; 11 Presumed Dead

Wednesday, 11 Mar 2015 11:01 PM

Military officials continued a search-and-rescue operation Wednesday afternoon for seven Marines and four soldiers who were presumed dead after an Army Black Hawk helicopter crashed on a nighttime training mission off Florida's Gulf coast.

Some human remains had washed ashore, said a spokeswoman for Eglin Air Force Base in North Florida.

Officials did not immediately release information on what caused the crash involving the Marines and four members of the Louisiana National Guard. Heavy fog was reported around the time the helicopter was reported missing around 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday. Fog hampered the search effort on Wednesday.

A U.S. military official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the 11 service members aboard were presumed to have died in what could be among the deadliest domestic military training accidents in years.

One of two UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters participating in the routine exercise crashed near the base 50 miles east of Pensacola, and rescue workers discovered debris about 2 a.m. on Wednesday, the base said in a statement.

The other helicopter "started to take off and then realized, I guess, that the weather was a condition and turned around," Major Gen. Glenn Curtis of the Louisiana National Guard told reporters.

The second helicopter landed safely, the military said. Names of the missing troops were being withheld.

The Marines were part of a special operations unit from Camp Lejeune in North Carolina conducting amphibious "helicopter and boat insertion and extraction training" focused on getting troops in and out of specific areas, according to a Marine Corps statement.

"Our complete attention is on locating our fellow Marines," the statement said.

The four crew members and the helicopter were part of the Louisiana National Guard, assigned to an Army unit based in Hammond, Louisiana. All four were married men with children, Curtis said.

They were part of a highly experienced helicopter battalion, Curtis said, noting the two pilots were instructors and had "several thousand hours" of flying experience with their crew.

President Barack Obama phoned military officials to express condolences, White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters, noting the president anticipated a detailed investigation.

The helicopter that crashed had a flight data recorder that will be part of the investigation, a Louisiana guard official said.

The incident occurred near an Air Force base spanning nearly 500,000 acres in the Florida Panhandle that is used extensively for training.

Gen. Martin Dempsey, the top U.S. military officer, told a U.S. Senate hearing that the "loss of the folks on that helicopter" serve as "a reminder to us that those who serve put themselves at risk both in training and in combat."

Noncombat Crashes Involving Blackhawk Helicopter

Here is a list of some of the noncombat crashes of the UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter, the model that crashed during a nighttime training mission off the Florida coast, presumably killing seven Marines and four soldiers.

The Black Hawk entered service with the U.S. Army in 1979. Modified versions have also been developed for the Marines, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard.

  • March 10, 2015: Eleven presumably killed when an Army helicopter crashes into the water off Eglin Air Force Base, Florida.
  • Dec. 21, 2006: Three killed when Army helicopter crashes on a mountain near Seattle.
  • Nov. 29, 2004: Seven killed when Army helicopter from Fort Hood, Texas, hits television transmission tower and crashes.
  • Feb. 12, 2001: Six killed and 11 injured when Army helicopter crashes during a nighttime training exercise on the North Shore of Oahu, Hawaii.
  • June 18, 1996: Six killed and 28 injured when Army helicopter crashes during a mock rescue at Fort Campbell, Kentucky.
  • March 8, 1988: 17 killed when two Army helicopters collide during a nighttime train mission near Fort Campbell, Kentucky.
  • March 13, 1985: Eight killed in Army training flight at Fort Bragg.
  • Oct. 4, 1983: Two killed when Army helicopter crashes in Caribbean Sea near entrance to Panama Canal.
The Associated Press contributed the list of noncombat Blackhawk crashes.

 

© 2017 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

 
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Military officials continued a search-and-rescue operation Wednesday afternoon for seven Marines and four soldiers who were presumed dead after an Army Black Hawk helicopter crashed on a nighttime training mission off Florida's Gulf coast.
helicopter, crash, Marines, soldiers, 11 presumed dead, Florida, Blackhawk, search, fog
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2015-01-11
Wednesday, 11 Mar 2015 11:01 PM
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