Coast Guard Crash: San Clemente Island

by the Left Coast Rebel

The United States Coast Guard heroes are many times unknown and unrecognized. Hopefully the heroes of today’s crash both military and Guard are recognized as such. Above all, I hope that they are found and alive. From SignonSanDiego:

Crews continued to search Friday morning for nine people missing after a Coast Guard transport plane and a Marine helicopter collided Thursday night east of San Clemente Island. “We continue to search with every asset we have available,” Coast Guard Capt. Thomas Farris said at a morning news briefing. Farris said four Marine aircraft were conducting training missions in the area prior to the collision.

The Coast Guard C-130, which was based in Sacramento, had been conducting a rescue mission, looking for a person who had reportedly tried to row to Catalina Island in a dingy. The aircraft collided at 7:10 p.m.

Seven people were aboard the Coast Guard plane and two were in the AH-1 Cobra attack helicopter.

This story hits a nerve for me. This is my backyard. On a clear day, San Clemente island can be seen off the horizon, (see satellite photo) from my home,(white circled in photo). Also, I am aware of the bravery and patriotism of the Guard and Marines, I have personally seen training exercises of each respectively. The things that the succumb to under training would boggle your mind. I see such being that I live close to Camp Pendleton in Oceanside CA. Wimps need not apply, I forever salute.

I’ll never forget the search for the Great White Shark that killed a man near where I live.The Coast Guard patrolled the SD coastline, unrelenting. It was a sight to behold…..

Godspeed and rescue for these 9.

The Californian coastline from space, circled where I live. Note San Clemente Island, shaped like the state itself:

UPDATE: Not giving up on search efforts, the San Diego UT reports:

The Coast Guard has found bits of debris, including aircraft wreckage, in a stretch roughly 12 miles long by 5 miles wide. No bodies were recovered as of last night. The ocean there is 2,000 feet deep.

“We are not standing down at this point,” said Capt. Tom Farris, Coast Guard San Diego sector commander. “We have every hope that we’ll be able to find survivors.”

But how could anyone endure more than a day in 63-degree ocean water?

“That’s a tough question,” Farris acknowledged yesterday evening. “What I would tell you is I have sufficient belief that I’m continuing the
search-and-rescue phase.”

Early yesterday, a Pentagon spokesman said it’s unlikely that the seven Coast Guard crew members and two Marine pilots survived.

Eyewitness accounts of the crash aren’t reassuring. Ron Newcomb and his wife were walking along the La Jolla coast after dinner Thursday when they saw bright-red-and-orange “fireballs” on the horizon.

“One popped up and lasted five to eight seconds and then died down, and the other popped up immediately thereafter,” said Newcomb, who lives in Allied Gardens. “Then it died down and it became ambient light coming over the horizon for at least five minutes. Immediately, I knew it was fuel burning, but I didn’t know what it was.”

Perhaps working in the crew members’ favor are the “dry suits” they should have been wearing. These bright-orange suits are designed to keep out water and maintain normal body temperature, said Lt. Josh Nelson, a Coast Guard spokesman and helicopter pilot.

The crews also probably wore inflatable life vests, which would keep them buoyant.

At Camp Pendleton and Miramar Marine Corps Air Station, leaders of the 3rd Marine Air Wing suspended all flights through the weekend so they could re-emphasize safety measures.

The Coast Guard plane and Marine helicopter were flying in Warning Area 291, a vast swath of airspace designated by the Federal Aviation Administration for military exercises.

UPDATE: The Coast Guard has called off the search for survivors of the collision. RIP 9 braves souls. From the UT:

Seven crew members were aboard a Sacramento-based Coast Guard HC-130 and two pilots aboard a Camp Pendleton-based AH-1W Super Cobra helicopter when they collided in a fireball about 15 miles east of San Clemente Island. All are now presumed dead.

“Due to the wreckage we’ve found, the nature of the collision, and the length of time since the crash, we’ve reached the conclusion that survival is no longer viable,” said Rear Adm. Joseph Castillo, commander of the 11th Coast Guard District, which includes San Diego.

The search of a 644-square-mile area between San Diego and San Clemente Island ended at 9:45 a.m. Sunday after 63 1/2 hours. Families of the missing service members were notified the night before.

Now Navy salvage ships will concentrate on locating the bulk of the wreckage and recovering the bodies of the missing crew members, said Capt. Thomas Farris, commander of Coast Guard Sector San Diego. He said he expects the search to continue for at least a week


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