Grieving families and friends of 11 soldiers and Marines whose died in a Black Hawk helicopter crash during a training exercise must wait until the dense fog clears and rough seas calm for their bodies to be recovered from the wreckage, which settled in just 25 feet of water in the Florida panhandle.
The Army said it has recovered two of the bodies of the four soldiers from the Louisiana Army National Guard helicopter. The search continued for the remains of the others in the helicopter crash.
The helicopter plummeted from the sky in thick fog Tuesday night during a routine training mission at the Englin Air Force Base in Florida. The cause of the crash – described as “high impact” by Englin Fire Chief Mark Giuliano – is being investigated by the U.S. Army Combat Readiness Center in Fort Rucker, Alabama.
Military officials said they would need better weather before they could pull the UH-60’s shattered core from the bottom of the Santa Rosa Sound, the Daily Comet reported.
Jenna Kemp’s husband, Kerry Kemp, was among those Marines killed in the helicopter crash. Her sister, Lora Waraska of Port Washington, Wisconsin described him as “a proud Marine, a loving husband and most wonderful father,” with a child about to turn 1.
Another victim, Marcus Bawol, 27, from Warren, Michigan, north of Detroit, sister said military officials have told them his remains have been identified. Bawol “loved everything about the military,” she said.
The tragedy hit hard in the beach towns near the Englin Air Force Base and Pensacola Naval Air Station, where military families often come to relax between deployments.
The National Guard soldiers, from Hammond, Louisiana, each did two tours in Iraq and joined in humanitarian missions after Gulf Coast hurricanes and the BP oil spill, the Daily Comet reported. Their passengers were described as “seasoned combat veterans” with the 2nd Marine Special Operations Battalion, Capt. Barry Morris, a command spokesman at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, said.