A U.S. Marine Corps helicopter has gone missing, prompting a massive search and rescue operation in the Pine Valley area of California. The CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter, assigned to Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 361, Marine Aircraft Group 16, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, was reported overdue on its flight from Creech Air Force Base to Marine Corps Air Station Miramar.

The alarm was raised when the aircraft, carrying five Marines, failed to arrive at its destination as scheduled. According to reports from the U.S. Marine Corps, the helicopter was en route from the Las Vegas area to Marine Corps Air Station Miramar when it was reported “overdue” on Tuesday night.

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Search efforts are being coordinated by the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, in collaboration with the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department and the Civil Air Patrol. Despite challenging weather conditions, including heavy snowfall, search teams are actively scouring the area in hopes of locating the missing helicopter and its occupants.

The Pine Valley area, located approximately 35 miles east of downtown San Diego, is known for its rugged terrain and mountainous landscapes, posing additional challenges to search and rescue operations. The San Diego Sheriff’s Department attempted to deploy a helicopter for aerial search efforts but was hindered by adverse weather conditions caused by an “atmospheric river storm.”

The disappearance of the CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter has raised concerns about the safety and well-being of the five Marines on board. The Marine Corps has affirmed its commitment to exhaust all resources in the search and rescue mission, emphasizing the importance of locating the missing aircraft and its crew members.

As the search continues, authorities are urging anyone with information related to the incident to come forward and assist in the ongoing efforts. The disappearance of the Marine Corps helicopter underscores the inherent risks faced by military personnel during training exercises and operational missions, highlighting the importance of robust safety protocols and emergency response capabilities.

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The community remains hopeful for a swift and successful resolution to the search operation, with the priority being the safe return of the missing Marines and the recovery of the aircraft.