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Marine Corps identifies troops lost in California helicopter crash

Micaela Burrow

Investigative Reporter, Defense

Daily Caller News Foundation

The Marine Corps identified the five crew members declared dead after a helicopter crash in a statement Friday, Feb. 9.

The five Marines – three captains, a sergeant and a lance corporal – were flying a CH-53 Super Stallion heavy-lift helicopter from Creech Air Force Base in Clark County, Nevada, to California when the aircraft went down near Pine Valley, California. While an investigation is ongoing into the crash, the unit, known as the Flying Tigers, identified the fallen troops in an emailed statement.

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

"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," he added.

Lance Cpl. Donovan Davis, 21, of Olathe, Kansas, enlisted in 2019, and was promoted to the rank of lance corporal on Jan.1 and served as a CH-53E helicopter crew chief, according to the Marine Corps.

Sgt. Alec Langen, 23, of Chandler, Arizona, enlisted in 2017, was promoted to sergeant in 2022 and served as a CH-53E helicopter crew chief.

Capt. Benjamin Moulton, 27, of Emmett, Idaho, commissioned in the Marine Corps in 2019 and achieved the rank of Captain in 2023. He was a CH-53E helicopter pilot.

Capt. Jack Casey, 26, of Dover, New Hampshire, commissioned in 2019, and was promoted to the rank of captain in 2023 and was a CH-53E helicopter pilot.

Capt. Miguel Nava, 28, of Traverse City, Michigan, commissioned in 2017, was promoted to captain in 2021 and served as a CH-53E helicopter pilot.

All had earned standard decorations, according to the statement. They were assigned to Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 361, Marine Aircraft Group 16, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing and were based at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California.

Authorities located the remains of the Super Stallion helicopter near Pine Valley, California, on Wednesday, Feb. 7, after initiating a search when the aircraft did not arrive at its destination on time. Recovery efforts were still underway for the remains of the five Marines and equipment lost in the crash as of Thursday.

The helicopter was reported overdue on Wednesday morning at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego.

The Marine Corps requested help from local officials around 2 a.m. Wednesday, saying the aircraft's last known location was Cleveland National Forest near Pine Valley, California, according to local news outlet ABC 10.

Authorities found the helicopter in Pine Valley, California, at 9:08 a.m. Pacific Standard Time.

President Joe Biden said he was "heartbroken" by the news and thanked local, state and federal agencies, including the Civil Air Patrol and San Diego County Sheriff's department, for assisting in the search.

 

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