An Air National Guard UH-60 Blackhawk crashed offshore near the Navarre Beach campground in the vicinity of Eglin Air Force Base, Florida on Tuesday, March 10. According to Captain Barry Morris, spokesman for MARSOC at Camp Lejeune, the Marines from 2nd Raider Battalion and aircrew from 1-244th Assault Helicopter Battalion of the Louisiana National Guard were conducting insert/extract drills when the helo crashed at around 2030 on Tuesday night.
Fog and rain hampered the search-and-rescue effort, but the Coast Guard has found debris in the water, and human remains have washed ashore. The Pentagon has declared all 11 personnel “presumed dead,” though the search is still continuing as of this writing, at 1515 Eastern time. Names have not been released, pending notification of next of kin.
This is not the Recon/MARSOC community’s first experience with this sort of loss. Helicopter operations are, while not as inherently risky as parachute operations, still risky. As an old quote goes, “If the wings are moving faster than the fuselage, it is a helicopter, and therefore, unsafe.” In 1999, a CH-46 Sea Knight off the USS Bonhomme Richard crashed during a VBSS training insert, killing seven. One of the aircrew, a corpsman, and five Marines from 5th Platoon, 1st Force Reconnaissance Company went down with the bird.
Anyone wishing to reach out to help the families, please contact the MARSOC Foundation.