Although a Honolulu newspaper reported last week that "some remains" of the 12 Marines who died when 2 helicopters crashed off the coast of Hawaii, it has now been clarified that only trace DNA elements belonging to Marines have been recovered.
The report attributed the initial information to Timothy Irish, the Marine Corps captain who served as the primary Marine media contact during the five-day search for the missing Marines.
Marine Corps spokesperson Capt. Cassandra Gesecki, however, has now said in a written statement that none of the 12 Marines who died in the Jan. 14 crash have been recovered.
In Gesecki’s clarification, she wrote that “trace elements of remains” in the form of DNA were recovered during the search-and-rescue phase that ended on Jan. 19.
The families of the identified Marines were notified. The Marine Corps wouldn't provide further information at this time about what was found, Gesecki said.
As you may remember, twelve Hawaii-based Marines were killed when two helicopters crashed during nighttime training on Jan. 14. Both aircraft were CH-53E Sea Stallion helicopters that were part of Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 463.
The Coast Guard initially reported that the choppers had collided, but the Marines said later it wasn't yet known if there was a collision. The cause remains under investigation. There was also news which came out after the search had ended that the commanding officer was removed from his job three days prior to the tragedy because senior officials determined he had failed to keep the unit operating at acceptable standards,
Hours after the crash of the helicopters, rescue crews did spot debris off of Oahu. This is where efforts are focused during the ongoing recovery and salvage operations.
The USNS Salvor and Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit One are using remotely operated underwater vehicles to “search, assess and survey” the crash site to further identify and map the debris field as sea conditions permit, Gesecki said.
Recovery and salvage operations may take several months to complete, but they may be extended depending on the size of the debris field and other factors, Gesecki said.
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