United States military officials confirmed on Sunday the deaths of six U.S. Marines who were on board a chopper that went missing earlier this week while providing aid in Nepal. The wreckage was found by the Nepalese army in the mountains northeast of Kathmandu.
Military officials state at around 10 a.m. (NST), Nepalese soldiers and service members from Joint Task Force 505 safely recovered two Nepalese soldiers and six U.S. Marines from the downed UH-1Y Huey helicopter. They were honorably received at the Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu, Nepal. From there, their bodies will be transported to the appropriate medical facilities to be properly identified by mortuary affairs personnel, officials say.
As of Friday, Army chief of army operations Maj. Gen. Binoj Basnyat said Friday no signs of life could be seen from the air, but had not been able to give any information about the six Marines and two Nepalese army soldiers who were on board when it went missing on Tuesday.According to Nepal's Defense Secretary Iswori Poudyal, rescuers had at first been able to find three bodies at the site of the wrecked chopper. He had given no details about the nationalities of the three victims, only saying their remains were charred.
One of the Marines on board the flight when it was reported missing was Crew Chief Sgt. Mark Johnson IV. He's a 2003 graduate of Stratford High School in Goose Creek.
Sergeant Johnson, IV, served as a UH-1Y helicopter crew chief with Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 469, Marine Aircraft Group 39, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, Camp Pendleton, California. Sergeant Johnson enlisted March 23, 2009. His deployments include 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Sahayogi Haat.
Sergeant Johnson's decorations include Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, Air Medal with Strike/Flight Numeral 5, Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon with two bronze start in lieu of third award, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation, Certificate of Commendation, NATO Medal and a Meritorious Mast.
Basnyat says the wreckage was located in the district of Dolakha.
He says ground troops are being sent to survey the wreckage on the mountainous terrain. Many areas in that region of Nepal are not reachable by air or road.The helicopter was providing relief to residents of Nepal who were affected by Tuesday's deadly earthquake.
The other five Marines who died in the crash were Capt. Dustin R. Lukasiewicz, Capt. Christopher L. Norgren, Sgt. Eric M. Seaman, Cpl. Sara A. Medina, and Lance Cpl. Jacob A. Hug.
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