POSTED: 7:29 a.m. HST, Jan 21, 2012
LAST UPDATED: 8:12 p.m. HST, Jan 21, 2012
The names of six Hawaii-based Marines killed when their helicopter crashed Thursday in Afghanistan were released Saturday by military officials.
The crash in the southern province of Helmand was the deadliest in Afghanistan since August, when 30 American troops died after a Chinook helicopter was apparently shot down in Wardak province in the center of the country. All six were based at Marine Corps Base Hawaii in Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, said base spokeswoman 1st Lt. Diann Olson.
The dead were Capt. Daniel Bartle, 27, of Ferndale, Wash.; Capt. Nathan McHone, 29, of Crystal Lake, Ill.; Master Sgt. Travis Riddick, 40, of Centerville, Iowa; Cpl. Jesse Stites, 23, of North Beach, Md.; Cpl. Kevin Reinhard, 25, of Colonia, N.J.; and Cpl. Joseph Logan, 22, of Willis, Texas.
Bartle and McHone were the pilots of the aircraft, while Riddick was the helicopter's crew chief.
Riddick, grew up in Iowa and joined the Marines after graduating from Centerville High School in 1990, said his father John Riddick, of Mount Pleasant, Iowa, John Riddick said his son served three tours in Iraq and two in Afghanistan. This was to be his last tour.
Their squadron had been sent in August to Afghanistan as part of a seven-month deployment, Olson said.
"These men were not only experienced Marines, but they were husbands, sons, brothers and dear friends," Olson said in a statement. "The memories of our fallen Marines are engraved in each and every one who had the privilege to know and serve alongside them, and we will never forget the sacrifice they made to our country and our Corps."
All six Marines had served previously in Afghanistan. The cause of the crash was being investigated, but a statement issued by the NATO international military coalition said there was no enemy activity in the area when it happened.
German Brig. Gen. Carsten Jacobson, a spokesman for the NATO coalition in Kabul, said officials were looking at a "technical fault" as the possible culprit.
"The helicopter is one of the safest forms of transport," Jacobson said. He said not only does it protect troops the danger of roadside bombs on the ground, but it is a well-tested, well-proven way to travel.
The Vietnam War-era CH-53D is the same model as a helicopter that crashed and killed a Marine in Kaneohe Bay on March 29. An investigation later revealed mechanical failure caused that accident.
In 2005, the same base lost 27 Marines when a CH-53E Super Stallion deployed to Iraq crashed during a desert sandstorm. Altogether, 30 Marines and a Navy medic were killed in that crash.
CH-53D Sea Stallion helicopters were first used in the 1960s, and the Marine Corps flew them in the Vietnam War.
All Sea Stallions still used operationally are stationed at Marine Corps Base Hawaii in Kaneohe Bay.
The military plans to replace them with the MV-22 Osprey.