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4 Marines killed in Calif. helicopter crash identified

Capt. Samuel A. Schultz

The Marine Corps has identified the four aviators killed in a CH-53E Super Stallion crash Tuesday in Southern California.

The helicopter had departed the Strategic Expeditionary Landing Field at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, Calif., to conduct squadron training for landings in unimproved zones, the Marine Corps said in a statement Thursday.

It crashed around 2:30 p.m. about 15 miles west of El Centro near the Mexico border.

The four Marines, from Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 465, Marine Aircraft Group 16, 3rd

Marine Aircraft Wing at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, were:

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Capt. Samuel Schultz, 28, of Huntington Valley, Pa., a pilot assigned to HMH-465. He joined the Corps in May 2012. His previous duty stations included Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla.; Naval Air Station Corpus Christi, Texas; and MCAS New River, N.C. He previously deployed with the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit.

First Lt. Samuel Phillips, 27, of Pinehurst, N.C., a pilot assigned to HMH-465, in the Marines since August 2013. His previous duty stations included Naval Air Stations Pensacola and Corpus Christi and MCAS New River.

Gunnery Sgt. Richard Holley, 33, of Dayton, Ohio, a CH-53 helicopter crew chief assigned to HMH-465, in the Marines since November 2003. Previous duty stations included Marine Corps Base Quantico and MCAS Miramar. He had deployed to Iraq twice in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, to Japan as part of the Unit Deployment Program and with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit.

Lance Cpl. Joseph Conrad, 24, of Baton Rouge, La., a CH-53 helicopter crew chief assigned to HMH-465. He joined the Marine Corps in May 2016.

“The hardest part of being a Marine is the tragic loss of life of a fellow brother-in-arms,” Col. Craig Leflore, commanding officer of Marine Aircraft Group 16, said in a Marine Corps statement.

“These ‘Warhorse’ Marines brought joy and laughter to so many around them,” he said. “They each served honorably, wore the uniform proudly and were a perfect example of what makes our Marine Corps great — its people!”

The cause of the crash is under investigation.

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In January 2016, two Super Stallions crashed off the northern coast of Oahu, Hawaii, killing all 12 Marines aboard.

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