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Marine fatal helicopter crash due to mechanical failure

By William Cole

LAST UPDATED: 10:21 p.m. HST, Dec 5, 2011

An aging Marine Corps CH-53D Sea Stallion helicopter crashed March 29 in Kaneohe Bay as a result of a "catastrophic mechanical failure," a portion of the official investigation concluded.

Cpl. Jonathan D. Faircloth, 22, who had survived combat tours in Afghanistan and Iraq, was killed and three other crew members were injured after the 88-foot-long helicopter made a "hard impact" landing from an altitude of about 300 feet while on a night training flight, the Marine Cops said.

According to a Field Flight Performance Board investigation conducted by the Marines and obtained by the Star-Advertiser through the Freedom of Information Act, the crew's reaction to the mechanical failure was consistent with Naval air training procedures.

The Field Flight Performance Board is used to determine the future flying status of crew members.

Then-Brig. Gen. William Beydler, commander of the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, made the determination July 18. He said the crew's actions were "exceptional in execution given the severity of malfunction and the operating environment."

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