Hope of Finding Survivors in Army Helicopter Crash Fades

13 Mar 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Dense fog delays search for 11 killed in Black Hawk crash.

ATLANTA — ATLANTA — The Coast Guard suspended its search-and-rescue operation in the waters off the Florida Panhandle on Thursday, an acknowledgment that the seven Marines and four Army soldiers aboard the Black Hawk helicopter that crashed Tuesday in Navarre, Fla., were unlikely to be found alive. The four soldiers, the aircrew, were members of the National Guard’s 1-244th Assault Helicopter Battalion out of Hammond, La. “At this point, we are not hopeful for survivors and we’re transitioning our search and rescue to a recovery effort,” said Col. The Louisiana National Guard said on Thursday that two of the soldiers’ bodies had been recovered and the other two were likely still underwater in the wrecked aircraft.

With the discovery of the copter’s shattered core, which has been inspected by divers, the response officially changed from search-and-rescue to search-and-recovery, Col. Monte Cannon, 96th Test Wing vice commander at nearby Eglin Air Force Base, in a statement Thursday. “Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with the family members and the units where our soldiers and Marines call home.” The investigation into the cause of the crash is continuing, and the Army and the Marines have not released the names of the victims. There’s almost no visibility at the crash site, and search crews in boats are moving as slowly as they can in the rough surf to avoid running into each other or wreckage from the crash, he said. One of the Marines killed was Kerry Kemp, who was based at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, said his sister-in-law, Lora Waraksa of Port Washington, Wisconsin.

They were conducting training involving “helicopter and boat insertion and extraction,” with an experienced Army air crew providing the helicopter support, a Marine Corps spokesman said. Jack Cullen, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Mobile, Alabama, said Thursday’s dense sea fog could persist through Friday, which is common when warm southern air meets cold water this time of year.

Like the Army’s Green Berets and the Navy’s SEALs, they were highly trained to endure grueling conditions and sensitive assignments on land and at sea, from seizing ships to special reconnaissance missions and direct action inside hostile territory. Tuesday night’s training involved practicing “insertion and extraction missions,” using small boats and helicopters to get troops into and out of a target site, said Capt. Military officials said search crews were focused on a 6-mile stretch of the sound. “It sounded like something metal either being hit or falling over, that’s what it sounded like. And there were two booms afterward, similar to what you hear with ordnance booms, but more muffled,” Urr said. “We saw gloves, a uniform with a last name on it,” said Alan Collinsworth, a hotel desk clerk. Baldor in Washington; Jason Dearen in Gainesville, Florida; Freida Frisaro in Miami; Kevin McGill and Stacey Plaisance in Hammond, Louisiana; and Emery P.

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