Marine Corps Super Stallion with 5 Aboard Goes Missing in California; Search Underway

by Braxton Taylor

The Marine Corps is searching for a helicopter that went missing Tuesday evening in Southern California with five Marines on board.

The Marines were flying in a CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter out of Creech Air Force Base, Nevada, on its way to Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California, when the aircraft was reported overdue, according to the Marine Corps.

The service said that it is working with the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department and Civil Air Patrol to search for the aircraft. The helicopter belongs to the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, a unit out of MCAS Miramar that falls under I Marine Expeditionary Force.

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“The most up-to-date information will be released as it becomes available,” a Marine Corps spokesperson told Military.com on Wednesday morning.

In 2018, four Marines from the 3rd MAW were killed after their CH-53E Super Stallion crashed near El Centro, California, during a routine training mission. Two years later, the families of those killed in the crash launched a lawsuit against two companies involved in developing the aircraft, alleging that faulty parts contributed to the crash.

In 2005, while operating in Al Anbar province in Iraq, a Super Stallion crashed, killing 31 troops aboard — the deadliest single incident of the Iraq War at the time, according to The New York Times.

The Super Stallion is the Corps’ primary heavy-lift helicopter and has been in service for more than three decades.

The missing helicopter comes as the Marine Corps grapples with issues on another platform, the V-22 Osprey, a dual-rotor aircraft that recently saw a deadly incident that killed three Marines during a routine training exercise off the coast of Australia. Another incident that involved the Osprey killed eight airmen off the coast of Japan in late November.

The November crash caused the military to ground the aircraft without a specified end date. In the meantime, the Marine Corps said that certain units have relied on other aircraft, like the Super Stallion, to pick up the slack lost from the Osprey grounding.

CBS News 8, a local TV news outlet in San Diego, reported that the San Diego County Fire Department and the U.S. Border Patrol are assisting in the search for the five Marines. The news station also reported that the Marines belong to Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 361, Marine Aircraft Group 16.

Related: Marine Corps Identifies 3 Troops Killed in Osprey Crash During Australia Training

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