2 Marines die after their helicopter crashes in Southern California

Story highlights

  • 2 die on a training mission at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Marines say
  • Their helicopter crashed late Friday afternoon at the center near Joshua Tree National Park

(CNN)Two Marines died after their helicopter crashed on a training mission in Southern California, the military said in a statement.

The aircraft went down around 4:30 p.m. (7:30 p.m. ET) Friday at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms, California.
"Our hearts go out to the families and friends of the two Marines we lost in this tragic accident," Maj. Gen. Michael Rocco said Friday.
    The names of the Marines will be released after the next of kin are notified.
    According to its website, the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center's mission "is to conduct relevant live-fire combined arms training, urban operations, and Joint/Coalition level integration training" for Marines and Navy sailors. It's located in San Bernardino County some 130 miles east of Los Angeles and abuts Joshua Tree National Park.
    While missions in combat zones are obviously more dangerous, there are many examples of fatal U.S. military aircraft crashes during training missions as well.
    Last March, for instance, a F/A-18C Hornet's pilot died after a crash about 70 miles east of Naval Air Station Fallon in western Nevada. The Navy described the combat jet as a "total loss."
    The Marines have had their share of deaths during training missions as well.
    In 2012, seven Marines died in a midair collision of two U.S. military helicopters along the Arizona-California border. Six of those killed during what was called a routine training operation were based at California's Camp Pendleton, while the other was out of Yuma, Arizona, the Marine Corps said.
    The previous year, the Marines had at least three deadly incidents involving helicopter crashes in noncombat areas -- one off of Hawaii, another in the northern part of Camp Pendleton and the third on that same Southern California base.
    The latter two crashes both involved members of the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, like the one of Friday.