Camp Lejeune, NC Marine Helicopter Crash, Oct 1985



Jacksonville, N.C. (AP) -- A team of divers hovering overhead was able to "immediately" reach a helicopter that crashed into the ocean after taking off from a ship, but 15 Marines aboard died in the corps' second-worst aircraft accident, officials say.
Four others were rescued Tuesday when their twin-rotor, Marine CH-46D "Sea Knight" helicopter with 19 people aboard, crashed and sank on takeoff from the USS Guadalcanal.
"This is the second-worst aircraft accident in Marine Corps history," said Gunnery Sgt. John Simmons. "The worst was a CH-53D crash in the Sea of Japan" in May, in which all 17 people aboard were killed.
The helicopter was participating in an exercise with the 26th Marine Amphibious Unit, he said. The CH-46 is the principal assault helicopter of the Marine Corps and also is used extensively by the Navy to carry cargo and passngers between ships and shore.
"It's a very safe aircraft for us. It's real good. It's been in the inventory since Vietnam," Simmons said, adding he had no details of the crash.
"It left the ship flying over the water and crashed,"
he said.
Simmons said a search-and-rescue helicopter with divers aboard was in the air over the ship when the helicopter crashed early Tuesday, so divers were able to get to the wreckage
Simmons said 12 of the casualties were Marine troops aboard the helicopter and three others were crew members.
Four Marines were pulled from the choppy waters around the Guadalcanal an one body was found. Navy and Marine diers searched for the 14 missing Marines, whose bodies were found Tuesday afternoon, Simmons said. The bodies were taken to the naval hospital at Camp Lejeune.
The helicopter wreckage would be removed from the ocean floor and taken to either New River Air Station or Cherry Pont Marine Air Station for examination by the Marie Aircraft Mishap Board, he said. "They will dismantle it and look at it with a fine-tooth comb."
Early this morning, all the injured were in good condition at a medical dispensary aboard the Guadalcanal, said Sgt. Pamela Vajner.
The passengers and crw are based at Camp Lejeune and its New River Air Station, said Staff Sgt. Terry Ruggles, also of the Camp Lejeune public affairs office.
The accident occurred not far from the Marine Corps Onslow Beach, just east of Camps Geiger and Lejeune, where Marines practice beachlandings, but the Marines said the ship's exact location wasn't known.
The Guadalcanal carries a crew of 650 and up to 2,000 troops, Simmons said.

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I saw that one of the other

I saw that one of the other survivors was a W.J. Barber. I had a roommate named "Joey" Barber who I served barracks duty with in England. He rotated to the fleet before I did. I've always wondered if it was him.

I was there brother. Remember

I was there brother. Remember it well. I Co. Wpns. Plt.

You were Lance Corporal

You were Lance Corporal Gatton at the time . We always thought that was a skate job , but a very important one :-).You did the job very well. I hope you are well.
Semper Fi!! and Aloha!!

Helo crash

General John Kelly was aboard our ship at that time . He was a Captain in charge of our Weapons company. He was assisting with the identification of our Marines as they were brought to the hanger bay. OOH RAH!!!

Chaplain was a lousy chaplain

He was unable to find me in the training field with six broken bones in my foot and a large white cast on in a gear gaurd designation, in time to get me home for my mothers funeral after her suicide . So no I think he got what he deserved...

Remember India Co. Gunny

Remember India Co. Gunny breaking the news to us on the beach in our fighting positions, India splashed earlier from the Manitowoc in Amtracs.
Gunny walked the line and addressed each position over and over. Miss all those Marines and the Chaplain, one in particular, Day, he looked like he should still be in High School, always a smile, a happy soul. Went to the Med with a cold sense of reality and appreciation of each day.
Semper Fi, Brothers!

The loss of our Marines.

I was aboard the USS Guadalcanal WPNS CO 3/4 81s plt when I heard the alarms sounding that we had a helo in the water. This was around 6 am. Later, myself and others were assigned to help bring aboard our Marines once the divers retrieved some of them and assist with the identification process in the hanger bay. All of the events of the day were taken care of in an orderly an honorable manner. Semper Fi!!

Hey Harry

Hey Harry

I remember

I recall Chappie saying good bye to his family as we boarded which I thought was weird since it was a green water work up ex. Maybe he knew more than I did.


There will be a memorial for those that served and died that day. Please contact me at connect i34 went using.