7 Marines, 4 soldiers missing in Florida helicopter crash
Crash occurred during training exercise
Seven Marines and four soldiers are missing after an Army helicopter crashed during a night training exercise at Eglin Air Force Base in the Florida Panhandle.
The missing Marines were from a special operations regiment out of Camp LeJeune in North Carolina. The helicopters and air crew were assigned to the Army National Guard unit out of Hammond, Louisiana.
Eglin spokesman Andy Bourland said one of two UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters participating in a routine nighttime training mission was reported missing around 8:30 p.m. Tuesday. A search and rescue operation was launched after the crash and search and rescue crews found debris from the crash around 2 a.m. Wednesday, CBS News and NBC News reported.
Names of those involved were being withheld pending notification of next of kin, he said.
Bourland said the Army helicopter took off from a nearby airport in Destin and joined other aircraft in the training exercise. the Associated Press reported.
Bourland said there were "weather issues" overnight, adding that visibility was limited due to darkness and fog.
"This is search and rescue," he stressed, "We have not declared the status of the 11 personnel on board at the time."
He added that the second helicopter was not involved in the crash and all of its crew were accounted for, NBC News reported. Eglin Air Force Base is located in Valparaiso, Florida — about 45 miles east of Pensacola.
The helicopter went down during a routine training mission on a remote swath of beach between Pensacola and Destin. The training area includes 20 miles of pristine beachfront that has been under the control of the military since before World War II.