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5 Marines killed in helicopter crash identified as troops in their 20s

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Posted at 3:15 PM, Feb 10, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-12 12:39:29-05

The Marine Corps released the names Friday of the five Marines killed when their CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter went down in the mountains outside San Diego during a historic storm. All of them were in their 20s.

The decorated Marines were assigned to Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 361, Marine Aircraft Group 16, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing and were based at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego.

"We have been confronted with a tragedy that is every service family's worst fear," said Lt. Col. Nicholas J. Harvey, commanding officer of the squadron. "The Flying Tigers family stands strong and includes the friends and community who have supported our squadron during this challenging time. We will get through this together."

The youngest was Lance Cpl. Donovan Davis, 21, of Olathe, Kansas, who was just promoted to the rank of lance corporal on New Year's Day. The oldest was Capt. Miguel Nava, 28, of Traverse City, Michigan.

Nava was a 2013 graduate of Comstock Park High School, near Grand Rapids. The school district said he graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 2017.

"Miguel dedicated his time to help, mentor, guide, encourage and support Comstock Park students. ... There is no greater example of what it means to be a Panther than Miguel," the district said.

Davis and Sgt. Alec Langen, 23, of Chandler, Arizona, were both crew chiefs. The rest were CH-53E pilots.

"We will miss him dearly," his mother Caryn Langen told KNSD-TV of San Diego.

The other pilots on board were Capt. Jack Casey, 26, of Dover, New Hampshire, and Capt. Benjamin Moulton, 27, of Emmett, Idaho.

The Super Stallion vanished late Tuesday night on its way back to Miramar from Creech Air Force Base. The craft was discovered Wednesday morning near the mountain community of Pine Valley.

The military confirmed Thursday that all five Marines were killed when their helicopter went down during stormy weather, and efforts were underway to recover their remains, which will take weeks because of the rough terrain and weather, said Col. James C. Ford, operations officer with 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing. In the meantime, Marines are staying with the remains round-the-clock to adhere to their ethos of never leaving any Marine behind.

The military is investigating the crash.