(Reuters) – Seven Marines and four soldiers were presumed dead after an Army Black Hawk helicopter crashed on a nighttime training mission off Florida’s Gulf coast, where U.S. military officials continued a search-and-rescue operation on Wednesday afternoon.
Some human remains had washed ashore, said a spokeswoman for Eglin Air Force Base in north Florida.
Officials did not immediately release information on what caused the crash involving the Marines and four members of the Louisiana National Guard. Heavy fog was reported around the time the helicopter was reported missing around 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday. Fog hampered the search effort on Wednesday.
At its best, training in military operations is fun, but always risky. In an instant, things can go wrong, people can make a mistake. In fact, things always go wrong, and people always make mistakes. Usually, the repercussions are minor. Sometimes, the outcome is worse.
Eleven members gone, presumably, just like that. Their families and friends lives changed in an instant. Their friends and comrades in arms in their units shaken and similarly grieving. Beyond that, those units will face merciless scrutiny to see if there were shortcomings that could have prevented these deaths. Maybe. Maybe not. Either way, it’s an uncomfortable proceeding. All while still having to train to accomplish the unit mission, even while in pain, short of men, and short of equipment.