On February 22, a Huey helicopter of the United States Marine Corps collided with another helicopter killing seven Marines in the midair collision in California. This week family and friends remember those killed as the U.S. Military released the names of the seven Marines.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the helicopters collided during a training mission in a remote area of Imperial County, the Marine Corps announced February 24. Six of the seven were members of the Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 469, Marine Aircraft Group 39, part of the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, based at Camp Pendleton. The seventh was with the Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron 1 at the Marine Corps Air Station in Yuma, Arizona.
An article in the Huffington Post stated, “[t]hose killed included a young man expecting his first child and another who had just gotten engaged to his longtime girlfriend. One had served as a youth pastor before joining the military a decade ago, while another was the son of one.”
The Marines were:
- Sgt. Justin Everett, 33, of Clovis, California
- Lance Cpl. Corey Little, 25, of Marietta, Georgia
- Maj. Thomas Budrejko, 37, of Montville, Connecticut
- Capt. Michael Quin, 28, of Purcellville, Virginia
- Capt. Benjamin Cerniglia, 31, of Montgomery, Alabama
- Lance Cpl. Nickoulas Elliott, 21, of Spokane, Washington
- Capt. Nathan W. Anderson, 32, of Amarillo Texas
"Every single one of these Marines impacted our squadron in their own special way, and the entire Marine Corps aviation community is feeling their tragic loss," said Lt. Col. Stephen Lightfoot, commanding officer of Squadron 469 in the Los Angeles Times.
According to the Huffington Post this is the fifth aviation accident since March involving the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing headquartered at Miramar Marine Corps Air Station in San Diego. Only two other aviation training accidents have occurred in the past five years involving seven or more deaths throughout the Navy and Marine Corps, according to the military's Naval Safety Center.
The crash is under investigation.