Officials say 12 Marines still missing after a double helicopter crash off Haleiwa are with 1st Marine Aircraft Wing.
They are the only ones on the island assigned to fly the CH-53E, also known as the Super Stallion.
It’s the largest helicopter in the U.S. military inventory, an impressive aircraft that can lift another helicopter. It’s useful for certain missions, especially in the Asia-Pacific area, like humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, and training exercises with partner nations.
“You would see a U.S. Marine wearing his equipment and uniform side-by-side with Marines from the Philippines or soldiers from Australian armed forces,” said Capt. Timothy Irish, public information officer, 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force.
Irish says a Super Stallion was used to provide relief after Hurricane Iniki in 1992.
An older model rests at Marine Corps Base Hawaii in Kaneohe. The two choppers the missing Marines trained with were newer models.
“How reliable are they?” KHON2 asked.
“I would say extremely reliable, and safe aircraft,” Irish said.
Irish said the 12 Marines were well-trained. “As part of the squadron’s role to operate day or night in variety of weather conditions, they will train in lowlight conditions and darkness using aid of night vision goggles,” he said.
Meanwhile, rescue responders are collecting debris from the crash, which will give them a better understanding of what went wrong.
Officials are reminding the public not to jeopardize the investigation if you come across possible debris.
“We will send a team of Marines out there who would collect it,” Irish said.
This is still an active search-and-rescue mission until the Coast Guard and the Marine Corps agree to call off the search.
An officer is assigned to every single family with a missing Marine to provide them direct updates on the search.