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Brothers (& Sisters) Killed in Action in USMC Helicopters or while assigned to USMC Helicopter or Tiltrotor Squadrons in TRAINING LOSS - PREPARATION FOR COMBAT



091029   HMLA-469   U.S. COAST GUARD   TRAINING LOSS - PREPARATION FOR COMBAT

Incident Date 091029 HMLA-469 AH-1W - BuNo 164596 - and U.S. COAST GUARD HC-130 [USCG SAR] - BuNo 1705 - MidAir Collision during Night Training Mission Over Water

[CREW]
Barnes, Che LtCmdr Pilot U. S. Coast Guard USCGAirStation/Sacramento/CA 091029
Bryant, Adam W LT Co-Pilot U. S. Coast Guard USCGAirStation/Sacramento/CA 091029
Claiborne, Thomas J 1stLt Co-Pilot HMLA-469 MAG-16/3rdMAW/1stMEF 091029
Leigh, Samuel C Maj. Pilot HMLA-469 MAG-16/3rdMAW/1stMEF 091029


BARNES, CHE : LTCDR : USCG : PILOT : 35 : CAPAY : CA

BRYANT, ADAM W : LT : USCG : 28 : CREWE : VA

CLAIBORNE, THOMAS J. : USMCR : 1LT : O2 : USMC : PARKER : CO :

LEIGH, SAMUEL C. : USMC : MAJ : O3 : 35 : BELGRADE : ME :


Incident Summary:
Mission: Two Marine AH-1W Super Cobras from HMLA-469 escorting two Marine CH-53 Super Stallions on a night overwater training mission - troop lift from Camp Pendleton to San Clemente Island.

Mission: USCG HC-130 Hercules [Rescue 1705] out of USCG Air Station Sacramento was on a Search and Rescue mission for a small craft missing out of Santa Catalina Harbor.

Incident: One of the AH-1W Super Cobras flying in the helicopter formation involved in midair with the HC-130, resulting in the loss of the seven man crew on the HC-130 and the two pilots on the AH-1W Super Cobra. CG and Navy conducted exhaustive search for downed aircrews.

Submitted by Alan H Barbour, Historian, Historian, USMC Combat Helicopter Association

Associated Press Report - 30 OCT 2009:
Search for Mid-Air Collision Survivors
Coast Guard plane collided with Marine helicopter.
Updated: Friday, 30 Oct 2009, 10:57 PM PDT
Published : Thursday, 29 Oct 2009, 10:08 PM PDT

Text Story by:
Associated Press
Reporter:
Al Naipo
Posted by: Scott Coppersmith, Tony Spearman

San Clemente Island (myFOXla.com) - The nighttime collision of a Coast Guard aircraft on a rescue mission and a Marine helicopter left nine people feared dead at sea Friday as investigators tried to solve the mystery of how the aircrews failed to see each other in a heavily used military training area.

Military aircraft and ships searched the ocean off Southern California for any sign of the victims while investigators gathered recordings of air traffic controllers and pilot communications. The search covered 644 square miles of ocean but focused on a debris field 50 miles off the San Diego coast.

The crash involved a Coast Guard C-130 with a seven-member crew and a Marine Corps AH-1W Super Cobra with two aboard as it flew in formation near the Navy's San Clemente Island, a site with training ranges for amphibious, air, surface and undersea warfare. It was not known whether the pilots were aware of each other before the 7:10 p.m. Thursday collision.

"A tragic event," Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said. "The search is still on, but it's likely taken the lives of nine individuals."

In San Diego, crews of Navy ships, Coast Guard cutters and helicopters planned to keep scouring the ocean even though nearly a full day had passed since the accident.

"We're still in the search-and-rescue phase, we are not standing down from that at this point," said Capt. Tom Farris, commander of the Coast Guard's San Diego sector. "We have every hope we will find survivors.

The identities of the crew members were not immediately known. The C-130 crew had survival gear aboard the aircraft, including exposure suits that could have allowed them to survive in the water for hours, Petty Officer Henry Dunphy said.

The Sacramento-based C-130 crew was looking for a man on 12-foot motorized skiff who was reported missing after leaving Avalon Harbor on Santa Catalina Island to reach a friend on a disabled yacht that had gone adrift off Catalina in high winds Tuesday, authorities said.

The Marine helicopter was flying from Camp Pendleton near San Diego to San Clemente Island, said Maj. Jay Delarosa, a spokesman for Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego.

Two Super Cobras, a type of attack helicopter, were escorting two big CH-53E Super Stallion transport helicopters carrying Marines to the island, Delarosa said. He did not know how many Marines were aboard the transports.

After the collision, the other three helicopters returned to base, he said.

The accident occurred in airspace uncontrolled by the FAA and inside a so-called military warning area, which is at times open to civilian aircraft and at times closed for military use, said Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor. He added that he did not know the status of the airspace at the time.

Minutes before the collision, the FAA told the C-130 pilot to begin communicating with military controllers at Naval Air Station North Island in San Diego Bay, but it was not known if the pilot did so, Gregor said.

FAA controllers never communicated with the Cobra pilots, Gregor said.

Farris, the Coast Guard commander, said it is not unusual to have a high volume of military traffic working in training areas.

"That's not unusual," he said. "We do that every night and it's something we're trained to deal with."

He said pilots in the area are responsible for seeing other's aircraft around them.

Pilots "operate in that area on a see-and-avoid principal," he said.

Farris said experts on operations, maintenance and safety arrived in San Diego on Friday to begin collecting evidence to produce a report on the
cause of the collision to prevent another accident.

The investigation will involve recordings of transmissions by the aircraft, the FAA and Navy controllers, he said.

The four-engine C-130 was conducting its search from an altitude of 900 to 1,000 feet and visibility was 15 miles, according to the Coast Guard.

Citing the continuing investigation, Delarosa said he couldn't comment on whether the helicopter pilots were aware of the Coast Guard search operation. He said that since it was after dark, the helicopter pilots would have been wearing night-vision goggles.

The aviation division for Camp Pendleton and Miramar suspended flights through the weekend, Delarosa said. Incoming aircraft will be allowed to land at the bases.

Navy spokeswoman Angelic Dolan declined to answer questions about the collision.

The search for the man on the skiff continued.

He was identified as David Jines, 50, a resident of Catalina, said Los Angeles County Sheriff's Lt. Jeff Donahue.

Jines left Avalon around 8 p.m. Tuesday on a skiff to go help a friend, Linda Jones, who was having trouble keeping her 57-foot vessel anchored in high winds, Donahue said.

Jones told The Associated Press that Jines boarded her yacht and helped her maneuver to a quarry where they thought they had made anchor.

"He thought I was safe so he decided to go back home," Jones said. "I said, 'I don't think you should go.' But he said

he had to get back to his sailboat." She said Jines' sailboat was anchored at the Avalon harbor.

She said the anchor didn't hold and a Coast Guard cutter ultimately towed her boat to Los Angeles. She reported Jines missing the next day when she returned to the harbor and couldn't find him.

"I didn't know Dave was in any kind of peril," she said.

The C-130 was based at the Coast Guard's air station in Sacramento.

Coast Guard flotilla Cmdr. Ron Clark said the primary mission of the base's C-130s is search and rescue in an area stretching from the Canadian border to Ecuador and halfway to Hawaii. The station is also responsible for marine enforcement ranging from drug interdiction to fisheries.

Clark declined to discuss the collision, referring calls on that to the San Diego operations.

A C-130 from Hawaii was flown to Sacramento on Friday to allow the station to continue operating normally.

The offshore military airspace occupies a wide swath of area from the U.S.-Mexico border to California's central coast.

Military flights are common along the San Diego County coast. Marine helicopters are often seen flying from coastal Camp Pendleton to ships and the island

NEWS 10 Online:
SAN DIEGO, CA - The U.S. Coast Guard continued to coordinate search operations Saturday for seven Coast Guard aircrew and two Marine Corps aircrew missing off the coast of San Clemente Island after a suspected mid-air collision between a Coast Guard C-130 aircraft and a Marine Corps AH-1W helicopter.

The Coast Guard also released the names of those still missing after Thursday's crash.

The missing crew members from the Coast Guard C-130 were identified as aircraft commander Lt. Cmdr. Che J. Barnes, 35, of Capay; co-pilot Lt. Adam W. Bryant, 28, of Crewe, Va.; flight engineer Chief Petty Officer John F. Seidman, 43, of Carmichael; navigator Petty Officer 2nd Class Carl P. Grigonis, 35, from Mayfield Heights, Ohio; radio operator Petty Officer 2nd Class Monica L. Beacham, 29, of Decaturville, Tenn.; Petty Officer 2nd Class Jason S. Moletzsky, 26, of Norristown, Pa.; and drop master Petty Officer 3rd Class Danny R. Kreder II, 22, from Elm Mott, Tex.

All are stationed at Coast Guard Air Station, Sacramento, where their aircraft was based.

The missing crew members from the Marine Corps helicopter were Maj. Samuel Leigh, 35, of Kennebec, Maine; and 1st Lt. Thomas Claiborne, 26, from Douglas, Colo.

Six Coast Guard cutters, three Navy ships and multiple helicopters searched the ocean off Southern California Saturday. Rescuers had found several pieces of debris from both aircraft but there was no sign of the victims. No bodies have been found in the debris field, and the mission is still considered search and rescue, not search and recovery, Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class Jetta Disco said Saturday morning.

Thursday's crash happened as the two crafts flew in formation near the Navy's San Clemente Island, a site with training ranges for amphibious, air, surface and undersea warfare.

The collision happened as the Coast Guard airplane was itself carrying out a search for a missing boatman.

Officials were collecting evidence and reviewing recordings of transmissions by the aircraft to try to determine how the collision occurred.

The Coast Guard identified the nine missing crewmembers Saturday, as family members tried to remain optimistic their loved ones were still alive.

"Of course I'm hopeful. I don't want to let my mind go to thinking the worst," said Jennifer Wiegandt Seidman of Carmichael. Her husband, Chief Petty Officer John Seidman, was the flight engineer on the plane. "John knows what he's doing, and he's fit and he's very smart. They're saying that they're still looking."

His mother, Connie, said Saturday her 43-year-old son had been in the Coast Guard since he was 20.

"He was flying, just like he liked to," she said.

Co-pilot Adam Bryant's mother, Nina Bryant, said Saturday that all she had been told is that "they're searching and haven't found anyone yet, and they don't know whose fault it was." She said she is "hoping and praying" her son and the others will be found alive.

"You never know. Miracles happen," she said.

Helicopter pilot Samuel Leigh's father, David, said his son was based in San Diego and was focused on a military career "since age 3."

"He wasn't mechanically inclined, so we were particularly proud of him, because he had to master an awful lot," said David Leigh, who lives in Belgrade.

Claiborne's father, Kenneth, said from his Parker home the family "would like to remain in private right now."

The accident happened at 7:10 p.m. in airspace uncontrolled by the FAA and inside a so-called military warning area, which is at times open to civilian aircraft and at times closed for military use, Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor said. He did not know the status of the airspace at the time.

Capt. Tom Farris, commander of the Coast Guard's San Diego sector, said it's not unusual to have a high volume of military traffic working in training areas and pilots in the area are responsible for seeing other aircraft around them under a so-called "see-and-avoid principle."

Minutes before the collision, the FAA told the C-130 pilot to begin communicating with military controllers at Naval Air Station North Island in San Diego Bay, but it was not known if the pilot did so, Gregor said.

The search covered 644 square miles of ocean but rescuers were concentrating on a debris field 50 miles off the San Diego coast.

The C-130 crew was looking for 50-year-old David Jines, who was reported missing after leaving Avalon Harbor on Santa Catalina Island man in a 12-foot motorized skiff to reach a friend in high winds Tuesday, authorities said.

The four-engine plane was conducting its search from an altitude of 900 to 1,000 feet and visibility was 15 miles.

Commemoration:
Tribute to Lieutenant Thomas Claiborne, United States Marine Corps
(House of Representatives - November 17, 2009)


Mrs. Speaker, there are many heroes who have served our Nation from the Sixth Congressional District of Colorado. Today I rise to pay tribute to one hero in particular. Marine Corps First Lieutenant Thomas Claiborne of Parker, Colorado. On October 29, 2009, First Lieutenant Claiborne was lost when his Marine Super Cobra collided with a Coast Guard C-130 during an escort mission off the coast of California. The lives of the crew of both aircraft were lost in this tragic training accident.



First Lieutenant Claiborne graduated from the University of Colorado magna cum laude on a full Navy ROTC scholarship in May 2006 with a degree in aerospace engineering and later earned his wings as a pilot in the United States Marine Corps. He is remembered as a fine young man, an outstanding student and a dedicated Marine Corps officer who had always dreamed of flying. First Lieutenant Thomas Claiborne was a shining example of the Marine Corps traditions. As a fellow marine, my deepest sympathies go out to his family and to all that knew him.


Submitted by Alan H Barbour, Historian, Historian, USMC Combat Helicopter Association

Maj. Sam Leigh, USMC:


Submitted by Alan H Barbour, Historian, Historian, USMC Combat Helicopter Association

1Lt Tom Claiborne, USMC:


Submitted by Alan H Barbour, Historian, Historian, USMC Combat Helicopter Association


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