Military investigators began their work to determine what caused an MV-22B Osprey tiltrotor aircraft to go down in a Southern California desert on Wednesday, killing five Marines aboard, military officials said Thursday.
Officials have not yet identified the Marines, citing a policy that the names of the deceased are withheld until 24 hours after all next-of-kin notifications are done. The Marines belonged to a squadron assigned to Marine Aircraft Group 39 based at Camp Pendleton, Calif., according to 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing.
“We mourn the loss of our Marines in this tragic mishap. Our hearts go out to their families and friends as they cope with this tragedy,” Maj. Gen. Bradford J. Gering, the 3rd MAW commander, based at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego, said in a statement.
The Marines were conducting a training mission near Glamis, Calif., when the aircraft reportedly crashed at about 12:25 p.m. local time, officials said. No other details were provided. The Osprey crashed in a remote desert area northeast of El Centro and northwest of Yuma, Ariz., with expansive sand dunes popular with offroaders.
“Equipment recovery efforts have begun and an investigation is underway,” according to the statement. “While military service is inherently dangerous, the loss of life is always difficult. 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing is committed to providing support to the families, friends and fellow service members of the fallen Marines.”
The crash is the second fatal mishap this year involving an MV-22B. In March, four Marines died when their Osprey crashed in a mountainous part of Norway, where it had deployed to participate in a cold weather exercise with Norway troops and other units with North Carolina-based II Marine Expeditionary Force. The crash was under investigation.