POLITICS

Coast Guard Calls Off Search For 5 Soldiers Missing Off Hawaii Coast

The Army aviators went missing after a Black Hawk helicopter crashed during a training mission.
Kaena Point State Park on the island of Oahu, as seen in the undated stock photo above, was closed to the public as search-an
Kaena Point State Park on the island of Oahu, as seen in the undated stock photo above, was closed to the public as search-and-rescue efforts continued for the missing U.S. Army helicopter that went down Tuesday night.

HALEIWA, Hawaii ― The Coast Guard on Monday called off the search-and-rescue mission for five Army aviators who went missing last week after an Army UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter crashed 2 miles off the coast of the Hawaiian island of Oahu.

The helicopter was one of two Black Hawks that were on a night training mission off the coast between Kaʻena Point and the Dillingham Airfield near the north shore of Oahu.

“A decision to suspend searching without finding survivors is extremely difficult given the depth of its impact and I know I speak for the entire Coast Guard when I say our thoughts and prayers are with Army helicopter squadron and particularly with families and loved ones of those missing,” Rear Adm. Vincent B. Atkins, commander of the Coast Guard 14th District, said in a statement to HuffPost.

“As we suspend the search we stand ready to support any future operations the Army conducts, and continue to provide any comfort we can for those suffering from this tragic loss.”

A search was launched off the coast of Kaʻena Point immediately after one Black Hawk lost contact with the other helicopter on Tuesday. Search efforts expanded west beyond the islands of Kauai and Niʻihau over the weekend.

The search efforts involved boat, air and shore patrols from the Coast Guard, Army and Marines; Honolulu and Kauai fire departments; Hawaii’s Ocean Safety and Lifeguard Services and Department of Land and Natural Resources; and residents of Niʻihau, a privately owned island restricted to public access.

Army officials have updated the missing crew members’ status to “duty status ― whereabouts unknown,” which notes they have not been located and their deaths could not be confirmed. 

The Army formally identified the missing soldiers as 1st Lt. Kathryn Bailey of Hope Mills, North Carolina; Chief Warrant Officer 3 Brian Woeber of Decatur, Alabama; Chief Warrant Officer 2 Stephen Cantrell of Wichita Falls, Texas; Staff Sgt. Abigail Milam of Jenkins, Kentucky; and Sgt. Michael Nelson of Antioch, Tennessee.

Two marine helicopters collided during a training in the same area in January 2016. None of the 12 crew members were found, and the Marine Corps declared them dead following a week of extensive searching.

The accident raised concerns about an aging fleet plagued by maintenance and readiness issues, Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller told a Senate panel last March. 

HuffPost

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