OAHU, Hawaii — Twelve Marines who went missing when the two helicopters carrying them apparently crashed off the coast of Hawaii last week have been declared dead.
A witness on January 14 saw a fireball in midair; another reported seeing a flare. The U.S. Marine Corps notified the Coast Guard that two CH-53 copters, carrying six men each, were missing. A search ensued involving the Navy, the National Guard, as well as Hawaii fire, police and Ocean Safety.
The Marine Corps on Thursday said it changed the status of the Marines to deceased “after five full days of search and rescue operations.”
Base Hawaii previously identified them as:
— 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. Adam C. Schoeller, 25, Gardners, Pennsylvania
— Sgt. Dillon J. Semolina, 24, Chaska, Minnesota
— 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
Sgt. Sempler was identified as having ties to Fountain, Colo., family told Colorado Springs station KRDO.
When the search was officially suspended at sunset Tuesday in Hawaii, a total of 130 rescue personnel had covered 40,530 nautical square miles, an area about the size of Florida, in a 115-hour search effort, the U.S. Coast Guard said.
The Marines and their helicopters were on a training flight when they all appeared to go down. No mayday call was received, just word that something had gone wrong, the Coast Guard said.
Searchers spotted a fire and debris field, including an empty life raft, about 2½ miles north of Haleiwa Beach and later found floating pieces of debris consistent with military aircraft.