Statement on Marine Helicopter Tragedy

Image: Bullit Marquez/Associated Press

By Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, Washington, D.C., January 20, 2016

Our hearts go out to the loved ones and family members of 12 Marines missing since an apparent helicopter collision off the coast of Hawaii last week. While there is no way to comprehend the grief their families feel today, this we do know: these proud Marines died as they lived, in service to a country they loved and in dedication to a cause greater than themselves.

I also want to extend my gratitude to the Air Force, Coast Guard, Navy, and Marine personnel who have been absolutely unwavering in their efforts to locate and rescue their colleagues. For the men and women who encountered rough seas and heavy swells over the course of these operations, “leave no man behind” was not a simple slogan; it was a solemn oath. We deeply appreciate their determination and the strong support they received from state and local authorities and the people of Hawaii.

The loss of these 12 brave Americans is a tragic reminder of the risks our men and women in uniform take each day in service to our country. Today, and on all days, we remember that it is because of their dedicated efforts that we live in peace and security.

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