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Hawaii Helicopter Crash: 12 ‘Missing’ Marines Declared Dead

Hawaii Helicopter Crash

The twelve Marines who went missing after the two helicopters carrying them apparently crashed off the coast of Hawaii  have been declared dead, reported CNN.

A witness on January 14 saw a fireball in midair; another reported seeing a flare. The U.S. Marine Corps notified the Coast Guard that two CH-53 copters, carrying six men each, were missing. A search ensued involving the Navy, the National Guard, as well as Hawaii fire, police and Ocean Safety.

According to AP, the status of these Marines changed to “deceased” on Jan. 20 after five full days of search and rescue operations. Marine Corps casualty assistance calls officers personally notified each family of the change.

Base Hawaii previously identified them as:

Maj. Shawn M. Campbell, 41, College Station, Texas

Capt. Brian T. Kennedy, 31, Philadelphia

Capt. Kevin T. Roche, 30, St. Louis

Capt. Steven R. Torbert, 29, Florence, Alabama

Sgt. Adam C. Schoeller, 25, Gardners, Pennsylvania

Sgt. Dillon J. Semolina, 24, Chaska, Minnesota

Sgt. Jeffrey A. Sempler, 22, Woodruff, South Carolina

Sgt. William J. Turner, 25, Florala, Alabama

Cpl. Matthew R. Drown, 23, Spring, Texas

Cpl. Thomas J. Jardas, 22, Fort Myers, Florida

Cpl. Christopher J. Orlando, 23, Hingham, Massachusetts

Lance Cpl. Ty L. Hart, 21, Aumsville, Oregon

The Marine Corps says their thoughts and prayers are with the Marines and their families as we all mourn this tragic loss of life.

When the search was officially suspended at sunset Tuesday in Hawaii, a total of 130 rescue personnel had covered 40,530 nautical square miles, an area about the size of Florida, in a 115-hour search effort, the U.S. Coast Guard said.

“The decision to suspend the search without finding survivors was particularly difficult,” said Capt. James Jenkins, commander of the Coast Guard’s 14th District.

“I know that nothing can ease the pain of the families of those missing, but I hope that the [search] efforts and the knowledge that so many were willing to put forth so much effort to try to bring those Marines home will provide some solace in the future,” Jenkins said.

A memorial for the 12 Marines is planned for Friday at Marine Corps Base Hawaii, said Marine Brig. Gen. Russell Sanborn, commander of the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing. A board has been formed to review the evidence surrounding the crash.

“The goal now is to switch to the recovery and the salvage operations … the recovery of any debris, any of the remains that may be discovered so that we can give closure to those families that are still out there that still want that final piece of the puzzle.”

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