Memorial set for 12 Marines aboard helicopters that crashed
HONOLULU (AP) — Military members and families are gathering at Marine Corp Base Hawaii in Kaneohe Friday to pay tribute to the 12 U.S. Marines aboard two helicopters that crashed off the coast of Hawaii.
The status of the missing Marines changed to deceased on Wednesday, after five days of searching for them. The Marine Corps says casualty assistance calls officers personally notified each family of the change.
The search began Jan. 14 when a civilian on a beach reported seeing the helicopters flying and then a fireball.
The Marines were alerted when the CH-53E helicopters carrying six crew members each failed to return to their base at Kaneohe Bay following a nighttime training mission. Hours later, a Coast Guard helicopter and C-130 airplane spotted debris 2 1/2 miles off of Oahu.
The search ended Tuesday after the around-the-clock multi-agency effort failed to locate any sign of the service members.
The crew had all earned various decorations and were members of Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 463, Marine Aircraft Group 24, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing.
"The men and women in our ranks today, much like the generations of Marines before, are absolutely committed to each other, to our Corps, our country, and our mission. They are courageous, determined, and focused on success," Marine Commandant Gen. Robert Neller said in a statement. "These twelve Marines embodied those same qualities and traits. We will miss them, but we will never forget them."
The Marines were:
— 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. Dillon J. Semolina, 24, Chaska, Minnesota.
— Sgt. Adam C. Schoeller, 25, Gardners, Pennsylvania.
— 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.