The Marine Corps identified four Marines killed on Tuesday in a CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter crash near El Centro, Calif. The Marines were assigned to Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron (HMH) 465, Marine Aircraft Group 16, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar.
“The loss of our Marines weighs heavy on our hearts,” Maj. Gen. Mark Wise, commanding general of 3rd MAW, said in a statement.
“Our priority is to provide support for our families and HMH-465 during this critical time.”
The four Marines killed in the crash were Capt. Samuel A. Schultz, First Lt. Samuel D. Phillips, Gunnery Sgt. Derik R. Holley and Lance Cpl. Taylor J. Conrad.
Capt. Samuel Schultz, 28, of Huntington Valley, Pa., was a pilot assigned to HMH-465. He joined the Marine Corps in May 2012 and had one deployment with the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit. He had previously been stationed at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida; Naval Air Station Corpus Christi, Texas; and MCAS New River, North Carolina.
First Lt. Samuel Phillips, 27, of Pinehurst, N.C., was a pilot assigned to HMH-465. He joined the Marine Corps in August 2013 and was also previously stationed at NAS Pensacola, NAS Corpus Christi and MCAS New River.
Gunnery Sgt. Derik R. Holley, 33, of Dayton, Ohio, was a CH-53 helicopter crew chief assigned to HMH-465. He joined the Marine Corps in November 2003 and had been stationed at Marine Corps Base Quantico and MCAS Miramar. He deployed twice to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, once to Japan as part of the Unit Deployment Program, and once with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit.
Holley’s personal awards consist of the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (4th award), Air Medal-Strike/Flight (9th award), and the Navy and Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal (4th award).
Lance Cpl. Taylor Conrad, 24, of Baton Rouge, La., was a CH-53 helicopter crew chief assigned to HMH-465. Conrad joined the Marine Corps in May 2016.
“The hardest part of being a Marine is the tragic loss of life of a fellow brother-in-arms,” Col. Craig Leflore, commanding officer of Marine Aircraft Group 16, said in the Marine Corps statement.
““My deepest sympathies go out to the families and friends of Capt. Samuel Shultz, 1st Lt. Samuel Phillips, Gunnery Sgt. Derik Holley, and Lance Cpl. Taylor Conrad. These ‘Warhorse’ Marines brought joy and laughter to so many around them. They each served honorably, wore the uniform proudly and were a perfect example of what makes our Marine Corps great – its people. They will forever be in our hearts and minds.”
The helicopter crashed about 15 miles west of El Centro around 2:30 p.m. during a routine training mission, the Marine Corps announced yesterday. The crew was conducting training for “aircraft landings in unimproved zones,” and the Marine Corps has not commented on the circumstances of the crash, citing a pending investigation.