12 Marines Missing In Hawaii Declared Dead (UPDATE)

The young men are nearly all in their 20s, still fresh in the memories of high school teachers.

01/18/2016 06:56 pm ET | Updated Jan 21, 2016

UPDATE: Jan. 21 -- The U.S. Marine Corps declared the 12 missing Marines dead on Thursday, two days after a massive five-day search for the men was suspended. The Marines went missing on Jan. 14 after two military helicopters crashed during a nighttime training off Oahu's north shore.

The Marine Corps changed the status of the Marines from "missing" to "deceased" after the victims' families were notified.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the Marines and their families as we all mourn this tragic loss of life," the Marine Corps said in an official statement. "The Marine Corps is focused on taking care of our Marines and their families."

UPDATE: Jan. 19 -- The U.S. Coast Guard announced that the search for the 12 missing Marines would be suspended as of Tuesday evening.

Previously:

HONOLULU -- Late Thursday night, two military helicopters on a training mission crashed off the coast of the Hawaiian island of Oahu. They were carrying a total of 12 Marines. As of Monday morning, there were no signs of the young men.

"The mission is still search and rescue," Capt. Timothy Irish, a Marine Corps spokesman, told reporters on Sunday. "The mission's highest priority is to recover survivors first and foremost, and any type of salvage operation for the air frame is secondary."

The U.S. Coast Guard and the Marine Corps had immediately begun search-and-rescue operations for the CH-53 transport helicopters and any survivors on Thursday, but stormy conditions and extra large swells on the island's north shore complicated efforts. By Monday, the Army, the Navy and Honolulu's police and fire departments had joined the round-the-clock search, with an expanded coverage area reaching the western and northeastern sides of the island and 8 miles out to sea. Some debris from the helicopters, including three life rafts, have been recovered.

Despite initial reports that the two helicopters collided, Irish said it's still not clear what happened.

"We think they collided because both of them went down," Mario Vittone, a retired Coast Guardsman who is an expert on sea survival, told The Associated Press. He added that any survivors would have faced the crash itself, the initial rush of water and since then exposure to the elements. 

Below, the names and stories of the Marines who are currently missing in Hawaii.

  • Maj. Shawn M. Campbell, 41
  • Campbell is married with four children. He is originally from College Station, Texas, and graduated from Texas A&M University with a degree in microbiology, according to Hawaii News Now. 

    Campbell's mother, Donna McGrew, described him as a "great dad whose kids love him and he's a wonderful husband." She told the Houston Chronicle that Campbell served three tours in the Middle East, including one in Iraq. He was transferred to Hawaii about two years ago.

    "My husband and I want everyone to know that this is not about us," McGrew said a family statement. "This is about the families that are suffering, and about all the sacrifices that our military members and their families make on a daily basis."
  • Capt. Brian T. Kennedy, 31

    Saddened to learn Pennsylvania marines Sgt. Adam Schoeller and Capt. Brian Kennedy are among those missing in Hawaii. Thoughts are with their families during this time. -TW

    Posted by Governor Tom Wolf on Sunday, January 17, 2016
  • Kennedy is from suburban Philadelphia, according to his father. "This is where he grew up and went to high school, but since he graduated from the Naval Academy, he's been on assignment," William Kennedy told The Associated Press.

    Of the rescue efforts, the Marine's father said simply, "We hope they're successful."
  • Capt. Kevin Roche, 30
    ASSOCIATED PRESS
  • Roche is a native of St. Louis, Missouri, and a "passionate Marine who loves his family and his country," according to his family. Two days before the incident, Roche gave an interview (featured in the first part of this video) to discuss the Marine training that was being conducted in the Pacific.

    "We believe the Marines and Coast Guard are doing everything they can to bring Kevin and his fellow Marines home safely," his family said in a statement. "We are grateful to everyone involved in the rescue."
  • Capt. Steven R. Torbert, 29

    HBC family, please join me in praying for the Torbert family. Their son Marine Captain Steven Torbert was part of the...

    Posted by John Brock on Friday, January 15, 2016
  • Torbert, a captain and pilot in the Marine Corps, grew up in Florence, Alabama, according to Alabama news station WAAY 31. He graduated from the University of Northern Alabama, is married with kids, and had been a member of the Highland Baptist Church in his hometown, according to a Facebook post by John Brock, the church's senior pastor.
  • Sgt. Dillon J. Semolina, 24
    GoFundMe/Semolina Family
  • Semolina, a native of Delano, Minnesota, wants to be a registered nurse when he leaves the Marines, according to his uncle Ryan Bachand. "He was waiting to hear from a school he had applied to and was hoping to hear next week," Bachand told AP, adding that the 24-year-old is an impressive, respectful and positive young man.

    "Dillon was a colorful kid. Great personality, very respectful," Matthew Schoen, Semolina's former principal, told KARE 11. "Dillon was just Dillon."

    Semolina's family has set up a GoFundMe page to send his parents to Hawaii. They surpassed their goal over the weekend, raising more than $12,000 by Sunday evening.
  • Sgt. Adam C. Schoeller, 25
    Facebook/Adam Schoeller
  • Schoeller is originally from Gardners, Pennsylvania, and graduated from Boiling Springs High School in 2008. He married Samantha Wickel-Schoeller this past July 4.

    Schoeller's family members said they are remaining optimistic as the search continues. A statement released through a family friend noted that "thousands [are] praying for a positive outcome" and said, "We value all of the thoughts and prayers offered up on our behalf during this very difficult time."
  • Sgt. Jeffrey A. Sempler, 22
  • Sempler joined the Marine Corps after graduating from Woodruff High School in South Carolina in 2011. "His teachers and friends remember Jeffrey's quiet and thoughtful personality," principal Aaron Fulmer said in a statement. "He possessed a quick and witty sense of humor. He was a young man who thought of others before thinking about himself."

    Jeremy Beauvier, who has known Sempler since he was 5 years old, told Fox Carolina that Sempler is a fun-loving, generous person who advanced quickly through the military ranks.
  • Sgt. William J. Turner, 25
  • Turner, who is originally from Florala, Alabama, enlisted in the Marines after high school to better himself and to serve his country, according to Hawaii News Now. He is known to friends and family as Josh.

    "Josh was a good old country boy," Michelle O'Neal, Turner's cousin, told the news station. "Well-respected. A perfect gentleman. He was a jewel."

    Turner married his wife, Elizabeth, last spring, the Andalusia Star News reports.
  • Cpl. Matthew R. Drown, 23
  • Drown, a Texas native, joined the Marines shortly after graduating from Klein Oaks High School in 2011. His speech and debate teacher, Angie Richard, told the Houston Chronicle that she remembers Drown as "very happy, always smiling" and showing a confidence in public speaking "unusual among high school kids."

    His family issued a statement asking for privacy to "deal with the very difficult situation," adding that they have to remain hopeful of his rescue for his sake and that of the others on the downed aircraft.
  • Cpl. Thomas J. Jardas, 22
  • Jardas joined the Marines in 2011 with two of his friends, after graduating from Fort Myers High School in Florida, according to the News Press. "Tommy was the kind of guy everybody loved," said Ryan Mitnick, who joined the Marines with him. "He was such a genuine and kind-hearted person."

    His older sister, Haely Jardas, is the reigning Miss District of Columbia. She flew home to Florida on Saturday to be with her family, according to the Miss District of Columbia Scholarship Program. "My little brother was lost doing what he loved," she wrote on her Facebook page. "He has always been and will always be my most important person."
  • Cpl. Christopher J. Orlando, 23
  • Orlando is a flight crew chief from Hingham, Massachusetts, according to CBS Boston. He loves to surf and has been stationed in Hawaii for one and a half years.

    Before Orlando joined the Marines, he was a counselor at a surf camp in Hull, Massachusetts. The South Shore Surf Camp described him as a "camp legend and an American hero" in a Facebook post. "He is mentally and physically strong with the ocean experience and skills needed to survive anything Mother Nature can throw at him."

    On Saturday, Orlando's family said in a statement that they are thankful to everyone for their love, concern and prayers.
  • Lance Cpl. Ty L. Hart, 21
  • Hart is originally from Stayton, Oregon, according to The Oregonian. Friends describe him as an upbeat and energetic individual who enjoys nature, boating and wake boarding. Six months ago, he married his high school sweetheart.

    Hart graduated in 2012 from Marion County High School, where he played football and baseball, ran track and wrestled. Alan Kirby, Hart's former football coach and teacher, told The Oregonian that Hart was a positive kid who always had a smile on his face.

    "He was definitely very teachable and he just did what you asked him to do, which I'm sure has served him well in the Marine Corps," Kirby added.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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