Two fathers and the uncle of three of five Marines killed in a helicopter crash during a storm in Southern California this week are lamenting their deaths as avoidable.
“Maybe this is the one instance to where they wake the f— up and they say, ‘What are we doing to our service members? We’ve got to stop this,'” Steven Langen, father of Sgt. Alec Langen, 23, told the New York Post on Saturday.
Sgt. Alec Langen was serving as crew chief on the CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter when it crashed in the mountains near San Diego on Tuesday night.
Steven Langen called their deaths, “an all too familiar story in the military community.”
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Bradford Moulton, whose nephew was Capt. Benjamin Moulton, 27, said he wished the men would have been kept “on the ground” during the “thousand-year storm” when they were flying from Creech Air Force Base in Nevada to Marine Corps Air Station Miramar near San Diego on a routine training exercise.
“They’re Marines, they fly in nasty weather, they do what they’re supposed to do,” he told the Post, “but I sure wish the operations officer would have kept them on the ground.” Moulton was one of two pilots on the helicopter.
Gregory Davis, a retired naval aviation officer and Lance Cpl. Donovan Davis’ father stated, “Not only did it not have to happen, it should not have happened.”
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Davis, 21, also served as a crew chief on the helicopter.
He added of his son, “He was so proud to be a Marine, he loved his job, he loved what he did. “We’re proud of Donovan and everything he was able to accomplish in his short 21 years.”
Langen said the only thing his son asked for on his 17th birthday was to enlist in the Marines. “The next thing you know, (there’s) a knock at the door. And there’s the Marine recruiter that is standing there,” he remembered.
Moulton shared that Benjamin was determined on his career goals. “He was going to be a Marine pilot no matter what,” he said. The 27-year-old was a pilot on the helicopter along with Capt. Jack Casey, 26, who was also killed in the crash.
Capt. Miguel Nava, 28, was the fifth victim in the crash.
“Miguel was the kindest soul you’d ever meet,” a fundraising page for his family said of him. “His warmth, positive energy, and compassion will be missed by all who were grateful to know him.”
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Lt. Col. Nicholas J. Harvey, commanding officer of the Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 361 (HMH-361), said of the five Marines after the crash: “We have been confronted with a tragedy that is every service family’s worst fear. Our top priority now is supporting the families of our fallen heroes, and we ask for your respect and understanding as they grieve. The Flying Tigers family stands strong and includes the friends and community who have supported our squadron during this challenging time. We will get through this together.”
The last known contact with the Super Stallion was at about 11:30 p.m. Tuesday, when waves of downpours and snow were hitting the region during an “atmospheric river.”
The CH-53E Super Stallion is the largest helicopter in the military and is designed to fly through bad weather, even at night.
The cause of the crash is currently under investigation.
Davis enlisted in the Marine Corps on Sept. 3, 2019, and was promoted to the rank of Lance Corporal on Jan. 1 of this year. His decorations include the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the National Defense Service Medal and a Sea Service Deployment Ribbon.
Langen enlisted in the Marine Corps on Sept. 14, 2017, and was promoted to the rank of Sergeant on Oct. 1, 2022. His decorations include the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, Good Conduct Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, National Defense Service Medal and two Sea Service Deployment Ribbons.
Moulton was commissioned into the Marine Corps on March 29, 2019, and was promoted to the rank of Captain on Aug. 1, 2023. His decorations include the National Defense Service Medal.
Meanwhile, Casey was commissioned in the Marine Corps on May 16, 2019, and was promoted to the rank of Captain on Sept. 1, 2023. His decorations include the National Defense Service Medal.
Nava was commissioned into the Marine Corps on May 26, 2017, and was promoted to the rank of Captain on Nov. 1, 2021. His decorations include the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, National Defense Service Medal and Sea Service Deployment Ribbon.
In December, a Marine was killed and 14 others injured in a training crash at Camp Pendleton in Southern California when a tactical vehicle rolled over.
Last November, five Army special operations soldiers were killed in a training “mishap” when their helicopter crashed into the Mediterranean and eight Air Force service members died in an Osprey crash off the coast of Japan when the aircraft suffered a mechanical failure.
The Osprey fleet has been grounded since the crash as the Air Force weighs when it’s safe to return to service.
The Marines didn’t immediately respond to Fox News Digital’s Saturday evening request for comment.
Fox News Digital’s Michael Dorgan contributed to this report.
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