The Coast Guard is suspending the search for 12 Marines, now believed to be dead, after five days of looking for survivors following the Thursday crash of two CH-53E Super Stallion heavy lift helicopters of the coast of the Hawaiian island of Oahu.
The two aircraft, assigned to the Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron (HMH) 463, Marine Aircraft Group 24, 1st Marine Air Wing out of Marine Corps Air Station Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, were believed to have collided during a night training operation on Thursday.
Since the crash, the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Marines, Hawaii National Guard and local emergency agencies have searched for the missing Marines. The search discovered all four life rafts carried by the two Super Stallions, debris from the helicopters but no evidence of the missing Marines.
“The decision to suspend this search without finding survivors is particularly difficult,” Capt. Jim Jenkins, acting commander of Coast Guard District 14, said during a late Tuesday press conference.
“We will continue to provide any comfort we can from this terrible loss.”
According to a Coast Guard statement, “as of sunset Tuesday, the Coast Guard and military partners will have conducted a cumulative search effort of 40,530 sq. nautical miles, plus the extensive shoreline effort by the Honolulu Fire and Police Departments with Ocean Safety Lifeguard Service. More than 130 individual searches were conducted over five days, a continuous sustained search effort of 115 hours.”
The missing Marines are:
— 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. Dillon J. Semolina, 24,Chaska, Minnesota.
— Sgt. Adam C. Schoeller, 25, Gardners, Pennsylvania.
— 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.
1st Marine Air Wing commander Brig. Gen. Russell Sanborn said during the Tuesday press conference the emphasis was now on recovery and salvage operations, “and continue to provide support to the families of our Marines.”
An investigation into the cause of the crash is ongoing.