HONOLULU (AP) — The U.S. says it has recovered the remains of nine of the 12 Marines killed when two helicopters crashed during nighttime training off Hawaii.
Remains of three Marines were not recovered, the said Thursday in a statement. Sgts. Dillon Semolina and Adam Schoeller and Cpl. Christopher Orlando are still missing.
The Marines say they have completed recovery operations.
The helicopters were part of Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 463 based at Kaneohe Bay. The Coast Guard initially reported that the choppers had collided, but the Marines said later it wasn’t known whether there was a collision. The cause remains under investigation.
It happened off Oahu’s North Shore in January. The says teams mapped the debris site and recovered significant wreckage from both helicopters.
In mid-January, 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 crash was near the north shore, but the search area spanned from the western coast of Oahu to the northeast corner of the island.
The transport helicopters were part of the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing at Marine Corps Base Hawaii. Known as Super Stallions, they are the U.S. military’s largest helicopter, capable of carrying a light armored vehicle, 16 tons of cargo or a team of combat-equipped Marines, according to a Marine Corps website.
A USMC Life writer contributed to the report. Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.