The Marine Corps has identified the five Marines who died in the crash of a CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter Tuesday in California.
The Marines are Lance Cpl. Donovan Davis, 21, a crew chief from Olathe, Kansas; Sgt. Alec Langen, 23, a crew chief from Chandler, Arizona; Capt. Benjamin Moulton, 27, a pilot from Emmett, Idaho; Capt. Jack Casey, 26, a pilot from Dover, New Hampshire; and Capt. Miguel Nava, 28, a pilot from Traverse City, Michigan, according to a 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing news release Friday.
All were members of 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing’s Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 361, nicknamed the Flying Tigers.
“We have been confronted with a tragedy that is every service family’s worst fear,” Lt. Col. Nicholas Harvey, the squadron’s commanding officer, said in the news release. “Our top priority now is supporting the families of our fallen heroes, and we ask for your respect and understanding as they grieve.”
“The Flying Tigers family stands strong and includes the friends and community who have supported our squadron during this challenging time,” Harvey said. “We will get through this together.”
Marines have been at the crash site keeping watch over their peers’ remains day and night, despite rough weather, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing commander Maj. Gen. Michael Borgschulte said in a statement Thursday.
Davis enlisted in the Marine Corps in September 2019 and was promoted to lance corporal in January, according to the news release. His decorations include the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the National Defense Service Medal and a Sea Service Deployment Ribbon.
Langen enlisted in September 2017, and was promoted to sergeant in October 2022. His decorations include the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, the Good Conduct Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the National Defense Service Medal and two Sea Service Deployment Ribbons.
Moulton commissioned in the Marine Corps in March 2019 and was promoted to captain in August 2023. His decorations include the National Defense Service Medal.
Casey commissioned in the Marine Corps in May 2019 and was promoted to captain in September 2023. His decorations include the National Defense Service Medal.
Nava commissioned in the Marine Corps in May 2017 and was promoted to captain in November 2021. His decorations include the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the National Defense Service Medal and a Sea Service Deployment Ribbon.
The Super Stallion crash
The five Marines had been on a routine training flight Tuesday from Creech Air Force Base, Nevada, to Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California, the Corps has said. But the aircraft never arrived at Miramar, the San Diego installation where their squadron is based.
That day, San Diego County was hit by a storm as Southern California was battered by a weather phenomenon called an atmospheric river.
The Marine Corps confirmed on Thursday morning that all five Marines aboard the Super Stallion had died.
The service hasn’t said what may have caused the crash, which it is investigating.
In April 2018, four Marines were killed in a Super Stallion crash in Southern California because of what a lawsuit by the families alleged was a faulty part.
In January 2016, two Super Stallions crashed during nighttime training off Hawaii, killing all 12 Marines aboard the pair of aircraft. A Marine Corps investigation said the immediate cause of the mishap was pilot error but determined the root causes were deeper problems in the crew’s squadron, including an insufficient number of ready-to-fly helicopters on which pilots could get experience.
Two deadly aviation mishaps occurred in the Marine Corps within days of each other in August 2023, prompting the top Marine to order a review of the “culture of safety” within every unit and plan to establish a safety center run by a general officer.
Irene Loewenson is a staff reporter for Marine Corps Times. She joined Military Times as an editorial fellow in August 2022. She is a graduate of Williams College, where she was the editor-in-chief of the student newspaper.