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5 Marines killed in East County helicopter crash identified

3rd MAW identifies Marines killed in CH-53E mishap
Posted at 9:45 AM, Feb 09, 2024

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) – Marine Corps officials identified the five MCAS Miramar-based Marines killed in a helicopter crash in the East County earlier this week.

Officials, in a press release, said all five were assigned to Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 361, Marine Aircraft Group 16, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing.

The five Marines were identified as:

  • Lance Cpl. Donovan Davis, 21, of Olathe, Kansas, a CH-53E helicopter crew chief
  • Sgt. Alec Langen, 23, of Chandler, Arizona, a CH-53E helicopter crew chief
  • Capt. Benjamin Moulton, 27, of Emmett, Idaho, a CH-53E helicopter pilot
  • Capt. Jack Casey, 26, of Dover, New Hampshire, a CH-53E helicopter pilot
  • Capt. Miguel Nava, 28, of Traverse City, Michigan, a CH-53E helicopter pilot

In a statement, Lt. Col. Nicholas J. Harvey, commanding officer of HMH-361, said:
“We have been confronted with a tragedy that is every service family’s worst fear. Our top priority now is supporting the families of our fallen heroes, and we ask for your respect and understanding as they grieve. The Flying Tigers family stands strong and includes the friends and community who have supported our squadron during this challenging time. We will get through this together.”

According to the Marine Corps, the helicopter and crew were conducting routine flight training at the time of the incident.

Before the crash, the helicopter carrying the five Marines took off from an Air Force Base in Nevada Tuesday night and was en route to Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, according to officials.

The 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing said on X that civil authorities located the aircraft Wednesday morning, about eight hours after it went missing.

Various agencies worked together to assist with recovery despite the challenging weather conditions, including the snow, rain and fog.

The cause of the crash is under investigation.

The Wingman Foundation, which works with Gold Star families specifically connected to aviation in the Navy and Marine Corps, has set up a fundraiser for the families of the fallen service members.