San Diego-based helicopter squadrons return home following a tragic eight-month deployment

2 HSC-6 crew members killed in Sept. crash

CORONADO, Calif. - Two Coronado-based helicopter squadrons returned to Naval Air Station North Island Wednesday following an eight-month deployment to the Western Pacific, the Indian Ocean and Mediterranean Sea.

Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 6, the "Screamin' Indians," was deployed aboard the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz and the USNS Ranier, a combat supply ship.

However, the homecoming was bittersweet, as two crew members did not return from the deployment.

HSC-6 crew members Lt. Cmdr. Landon Jones, 35, of Lompoc, and Chief Warrant Officer Jonathan Gibson, 32, of Aurora, Ore., were killed when their MH-60S Knighthawk helicopter crashed while attempting to land aboard the USS William P. Lawrence, a destroyer, on Sept. 22. Three others were rescued.

The crash came as the Navy was building forces in the Middle East following Syria's use of chemical weapons in its civil war. Navy officials said the crash was not related to hostile activity.

Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 75, the "WolfPack," had been split among the Nimitz, guided-missile cruiser USS Princeton, and guided-missile destroyers USS Shoup, USS Stockdale and USS William P. Lawrence.

"There is an inherent amount of risk with what we do, and since we had a mission to do we continued on as they would have expected us to," said Burke.

Patches were made with the names of those lost to remember both men.

According to the Navy, HSC-6's primary mission areas are logistics, fleet support operations, mobility, combat search and rescue, anti-surface warfare, support of special operations forces and command, control and communication.

HSM-75's mission capabilities include search and rescue, mobility, electronic warfare, surface warfare, anti-submarine warfare, and command, control and communications.

The two squadrons returned a day ahead of the San Diego-based Destroyer Squadron 23, including the William P. Lawrence, which is set to arrive along with the Nimitz, Carrier Strike Group 11 and Carrier Air Wing 11 at Naval Air Station North Island on Thursday.

Navy officials said the Nimitz will then head to its homeport of Everett, Wash.

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