Erika I. Ritchie
All five Marines onboard an MV-22 Osprey training above the Imperial Valley desert are dead following the crash of their aircraft on Wednesday, June 8, near Glamis, officials with the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing said Thursday.
“We mourn the loss of our Marines in this tragic mishap,” Maj. Gen. Bradford J. Gering, commanding general of 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, said in a statement. “Our hearts go out to their families and friends as they cope with this tragedy.”
The aircraft was based at Camp Pendleton and was part of Marine Aircraft Group 39 with the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing.
Equipment recovery efforts have begun and an investigation is underway, said 1st Lt. Duane Kampa, a spokesman with the aircraft wing.
The identities of the Marines will not be released for at least 24 hours and after notification of their families, officials said.
The Marines were conducting aerial gunnery training on ranges at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma. It is unclear if the osprey was heading to or from the base during the accident.
Shortly after the crash, The Naval Air Facility El Centro reported a downed aircraft in the vicinity of Coachella Canal Road and Highway 78. Local emergency responders assisted the military with the incident, officials said.
Ospreys are tiltrotor aircraft and can fly faster and longer than a helicopter. But, like a helicopter, they can also hover. They were used in combat in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
This is the second deadly accident with an Osprey this year. Four Marines from the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing based in North Carolina were killed in March when their aircraft went down during a training exercise in Norway.
Accidents plagued the Osprey in the aircraft’s early years after it was put into operation by the Pentagon in 2007. Since that time there have been eight crashes.
There have also been two recent aviation accidents in Southern California with tragic outcomes.
In August, five sailors died when the MH-60S Seahawk helicopter they were training in fell off the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln as it landed. An investigation released in May said a damaged hose funneling hydraulic fluid to the aircraft’s rotor malfunctioned.
And, in August 2020, two Army soldiers, one from San Bernardino, were killed when their Blackhawk helicopter went down on San Clemente Island. Three others were injured.