MARINE CORPS BASE HAWAII, Hawaii (CBS/AP) — A Massachusetts Marine was among 12 men who were honored Friday in Hawaii during a memorial service, presumed dead following a crash involving two military helicopters.
Cpl. Christopher J. Orlando of Hingham was among 12 Marines who died when two helicopters crashed during a nighttime training mission off Hawaii last week. Their fellow Marines shared vignettes about all 12 during a memorial service held in their honor on Friday.
The ceremony came after the Coast Guard announced earlier in the week they were halting their search without having found any of those on board. The Marines pronounced the men deceased on Wednesday.
Enlarged pictures of the men and crosses lined the tarmac in front of two helicopters. Servicemen placed flight vests, rifles, flight helmets, combat boots and leis on 12 individual crosses.
A bagpiper played “Amazing Grace” and a Marine band played taps.
The commanding officer of the squadron, Lt. Col. Eric D. Purcell, thanked the Coast Guard and others involved in the search, noting many of the rescuers were at the service.
“The sadness that this loss brings to their families and to this squadron is immeasurable,” Purcell said. “They were in the prime of their life, full of joy and hope — only to be taken from us in an instant.”
President Barack Obama said in a statement Friday that the country is grateful for the service and sacrifice of the 12 Marines.
“The willingness of our troops to complete dangerous training to prepare for any mission our nation asks of them will not be forgotten,” his statement said.
The crews belonged to Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 463, Marine Aircraft Group 24, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing. The search for them began Jan. 14 when a witness on a beach reported seeing the helicopters flying and then a fireball.
The Marines involved in the crash were:
— Maj. Shawn M. Campbell, 41, College Station, Texas.
— Capt. Brian T. Kennedy, 31, Philadelphia.
— Capt. Kevin T. Roche, 30, St. Louis.
— Capt. Steven R. Torbert, 29, Florence, Alabama.
— Sgt. Dillon J. Semolina, 24, Chaska, Minnesota.
— Sgt. Adam C. Schoeller, 25, Gardners, Pennsylvania.
— Sgt. Jeffrey A. Sempler, 22, Woodruff, South Carolina.
— Sgt. William J. Turner, 25, Florala, Alabama.
— Cpl. Matthew R. Drown, 23, Spring, Texas.
— Cpl. Thomas J. Jardas, 22, Fort Myers, Florida.
— Cpl. Christopher J. Orlando, 23, Hingham, Massachusetts.
— Lance Cpl. Ty L. Hart, 21, Aumsville, Oregon.
The Marines were alerted when the CH-53E helicopters each carrying six crew members failed to return to their base. Hours later, a Coast Guard helicopter and C-130 airplane spotted debris 2 1/2 miles off of Oahu.
The search ended Tuesday after the around-the-clock, multiagency effort failed to locate any sign of the service members.
Caleb Jones and Audrey McAvoy of the Assosiated Press contributed to this report
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