The U.S. Marine Corps is investigating the May 12 crash in Nepal of a Bell Helicopter UH-1Y that killed all eight onboard.
The six Marines and two Nepalese soldiers on the helicopter were participating in disaster relief missions following a second major earthquake in Nepal. The May 12 quake followed a magnitude 7.8 one that struck the country on April 25.
The helicopter from Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 469 (HMLA-469) went missing May 12; its wreckage was located May 15 at an elevation of about 11,200 feet eight miles north of Charikot, a town about 45 miles east of Kathmandu. Nepal Special Forces, U.S. Marines, and U.S. Air Force pararescuemen worked together to gather information about the helicopter and its crew, according to Joint Task Force 505, the U.S. military force set up to integrate and coordinate international disaster-recovery efforts in the Asia-Pacific region.
The dead were identified as Capt. Christopher L. Norgren and Capt. Dustin R. Lukasiewicz, the UH-1Y pilots; Sgt. Ward M. Johnson and Sgt. Eric M. Seaman, the helicopter crew chiefs; Cpl. Sara A. Medina, a combat photographer; Lance Cpl. Jacob A. Hug, a combat videographer, and Nepalese soldiers Tapendra Rawal and Basanta Titara.
VMLA-469 deployed to Nepal directly from the Philippines, where it had been participating in Exercise Balikatan 2015. The squadron is based at Camp Pendleton, Calif.
Paired with the AH-1Z in the USMC H-1 modernization program, the UH-1Y includes energy-attenuating, crashworthy seats, energy-absorbing landing gear, self-sealing fuel tanks and fuel systems, fuel vapor-inerting systems and mass-retention designs intended to ensure major components stay where they should in the event of a crash. It also has greater enhanced payload, range and cruise speed than the UH-1N it replaced.