The Louisiana National Guard has confirmed two soldiers involved in the UH-60M Black Hawk training accident crash are dead and have been recovered.
What was a search and rescue operation, has moved into recovery operations for the remaining two guardsmen.
“At this point, we’re not hopeful for survivors, and we are transitioning our search and rescue to a recovery effort,” said Col. Monte Cannon, 96th Test Wing vice-commander.
The remaining soldiers are believed to be located in the wreckage in the Santa Rosa Sound, but cannot be confirmed until a civilian salvage unit is able to recover the aircraft.
“It is with a heavy heart that we announce that two of our own have perished in this tragic accident,” said Maj. Gen. Glenn H. Curtis, the adjutant general of the LANG, in a press release. “We believe the other two remain with the aircraft.
“The entire military community mourns the loss of our friends that we consider family. Our hearts go out to the loved ones of these heroes that dedicated their lives to the service of the state of Louisiana and the United States of America.”
The guardsmen were assigned to the 1-244th Assault Helicopter Battalion in Hammond, La.
“At times like these, words seem to offer little comfort. We are heartbroken. We are shocked. But we are a team … standing together for the families and for each other.”
The Louisiana Army National Guard was supporting in a routine night-time training exercise with the U.S. Marine Corps. The Black Hawk carrying the four aircrew and seven Marines crashed near Eglin range site A-17, east of the Navarre Bridge.
The helicopter was reported missing at about 8:30 p.m. Tuesday evening. Debris from the aircraft was located by search and rescue team at about 2 a.m. Wednesday.
Names of the aircrew on board are being withheld in accordance with Secretary of Defense guidelines. Additional details will be provided as they become available.
The second helicopter involved in the training and its personnel on board returned safely.
The accident is under investigation.