The post and the headline have been updated to include additional information from U.S. Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command and the U.S. Coast Guard.
Seven Marines assigned to the Marine Special Operations Regiment in Camp Lejeune, N.C. and four Louisiana National Guard soldiers are missing following a helicopter accident near Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., Marine officials told USNI News on Wednesday.
The 1-244th Assault Helicopter Battalion UH-60 Blackhawk with the Marines onboard was reported missing about 8:30 p.m. EST on Tuesday following an accident.
“Debris from the aircraft was located by search and rescue team at about 2 a.m. this morning. Search and rescue efforts are underway at the accident site currently,” read a statement from Eglin Air Force Base statement.
According to a report from The Associated Press, the Marines and soldiers are presumed dead.
The helicopter was believed to have gone down near on a military owned beach between Pensacola and Destin.
Coast Guard units are aiding in the search and rescue efforts for the missing solders and Marines, Capt. Barry Morris with U.S. Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command told USNI News.
Small boasts from Coast Guard Station Destin arrived on scene at about 11:20 p.m. EST and found a “debris field consistent with a military aircraft” around 1:30 a.m., according to a release from the Coast Guard.
The current search area is “approximately 17 miles by three miles focused within Santa Rosa Sound,” according to the release.
Marine Lt. Gen. Kenneth Glueck mentioned during an unrelated Senate hearing that weather was hampering the search.
“We are working closely with all parties involved to locate our Marines and the Army aircrew as soon as possible.” Major Gen. Joseph Osterman, MARSOC commander said in a statement.
Separate reports have indicated human remains have washed up on shore.
The helicopter was paired with another from the 1-244th as part of a training exercise involving the Marine Special Operations Regiment from Camp Lejeune, MARSOC officials told USNI News on Wednesday.
The MARSOC Marines and soldiers were part of an annual exercise that had begun on March 8 that “included amphibious boat training and airborne insertion and extraction methods,” according to a report in Marine Corps Times.
The exercise, which was slated to complete on March 15, is currently paused.
An investigation has begun into the cause of the accident.
The following is a Wednesday release from the U.S. Coast Guard.
Coast Guard, local agencies searching for downed military aircraft near Santa Rosa
NEW ORLEANS – The Coast Guard and local agencies are searching for a downed military aircraft near Santa Rosa Sound, Florida, Wednesday.
Watchstanders at the 8th Coast Guard District Command Center received a report of a downed military aircraft at approximately 11 p.m., Tuesday. The aircraft reportedly had four Hammond, Louisiana-based National Guard aircrew and seven Camp Lejeune-based Marines.
The watchstanders directed the launch of Coast Guard small boatcrews from Stations Pensacola and Destin to conduct a search of the sound for the missing aircraft crew. The Station Destin small boatcrew arrived on scene around 11:20 p.m., and conducted search within the area.
Search area is approximately 17 miles by three miles focused within Santa Rosa Sound. A debris field consistent with a military aircraft was spotted by Coast Guard Station Destin small boatcrew at about 1:30 a.m., Wednesday.
The Coast Guard is working with the Eglin Air Force Incident Command Post, which consists of personnel from Escambia County Volunteer Services, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Okaloosa County Fire Department, Hurlburt Field Fire Department and Gulf Breeze Fire Department.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the friends and family of the members involved in this incident,” said Layne Carter, search and rescue mission coordinator. “We are aggressively searching for possible survivors involved in the crash.”
The following is the Wednesday release from U.S. Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command.
MEDIA ADVISORY: SEVEN MARSOC MARINES INVOVLED IN HELICOPTER MISHAP
CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. – Seven Marines assigned to U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Special Operations Command were on board a Louisiana Army National Guard UH-60 aircraft that was involved in a training mishap last night at approximately 8:30 p.m. near Eglin, Fla.
Search and rescue efforts are currently underway at the site of the accident. Names of the aircrew and Marines on board are being withheld while the search and rescue mission is underway.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the Marines, soldiers and family members of those involved in this mishap. We are working closely with all parties involved to locate our Marines and the Army aircrew as soon as possible.” Major Gen. Joseph Osterman, commander of U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Special Operations Command.
The accident is under investigation. Additional details will be provided as they become available.
The following is an updated Wednesday release from Eglin Air Force Base.
3/11/2015 – EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. — Eglin search and rescue crews on scene are recovering debris of an aircraft accident near Eglin range site A-17.
Two UH-60 aircraft assigned to the Army National Guard, Hammond, La., were participating in a training exercise over night March 10. One aircraft with four aircrew and seven Marines assigned to Camp LaJeune, N.C, was involved in an accident near Eglin range site A-17, east of the Navarre Bridge.
Heavy fog is having an impact on search and recovery efforts. Multiple agencies are on scene including the Coast Guard who have secured waterways.
The helicopter was reported missing at about 8:30 p.m. March 10. Debris from the aircraft was located by search and rescue team at about 2 a.m. this morning. Search and rescue efforts are underway at the accident site currently.
The second helicopter and its personnel on board have returned and are accounted for at this time. The aircraft are assigned to the 1-244th Assault Helicopter Battalion in Hammond, Louisiana. They were participating in a routine training mission involving the Marine Special Operations Regiment from Camp LeJeune.
Names of the aircrew and Marines on board are being withheld pending NOK notification. The accident is under investigation. Additional details will be provided as they become available.