Search Called Off for Marine Missing in Helicopter Accident

The Navy called off the search Monday for a missing Marine who was thrown into the ocean after the military helicopter he was in lost power and slammed into an amphibious assault ship 20 miles off the California Coast near Camp Pendleton.

Twenty-two other Marines and three sailors were slightly injured in the accident Sunday evening during the final operation of a major, joint Marine and Navy military exercise that began nearly two weeks ago.

The missing Marine was identified late Monday as Lance Cpl. Mark A. Marquez, 19, of Milwaukee, a member of a ground combat unit based at Camp Pendleton.

The search by ships and helicopters was discontinued just before noon Monday, according to Navy Cmdr. David Dillon in San Diego.

"There just wasn't any sign of him," he said.

"The aircraft crashed on board the USS Peleliu while attempting to make a precautionary landing," said Maj. Tom Mitchell at Camp Pendleton. "The skill of the pilots in making the landing was magnificent and averted what could have been an even greater tragedy."

The CH-46E Sea Knight helicopter, part of the Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 164 based at the Marine Corps Air Station at Tustin, apparently experienced a loss of power shortly after it lifted off the deck of the ship. In an attempt to return to the vessel, the helicopter "impaled itself" on a sponson, a piece that projects out from the side of the ship, according to Dillon.

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