Gunnery Sgt. Derik Holley, 33, was a helicopter crew chief aboard the CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter that crashed near El Centro, Calif., according to the Marine Corps.
Holley, who had deployed to Iraq twice, had served in the Marines since 2003, with assignments in Virginia, California and Japan.
The daytime crash happened about 2:35 p.m. and 15 miles west of El Centro after the helicopter took off from the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center at Twenty-nine Palms, the service branch said. The cause was under investigation, officials said.
The Marines were assigned to a squadron at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar near San Diego.
“The hardest part of being a Marine is the tragic loss of life of a fellow brothers-in-arm,” Col. Craig Leflore, a commanding officer of Marine Aircraft Group 16, said in a statement. “…These ‘Warhorse’ Marines brought joy and laughter to so many around them.:”
Also killed in the crash were: Capt. Samuel A. Schultz, 28, a pilot, of Huntington Valley, Pa.; First Lt. Samuel D. Phillips, 27, a pilot, of Pinehurst, N.C.; and Lance Cpl. Joseph Conrad, 24, a crew chief, of Baton Rouge, La.
“Gunnery Sgt. Holley’s passing is heartbreaking news for Ohio and for our nation,” Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) said. “Connie and I join the Montgomery County community in prayers of peace and comfort for Holley’s friends and family, as we commit to honor his memory and the ultimate sacrifice he made for our country.”
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