7 US Marines killed in chopper collision in Arizona identified


The US Marine Corps has identified seven Marines killed when two helicopters collided near the Arizona-California border during a pre-deployment training exercise this week.

(GlobalPost reports: Arizona: Helicopter crash kills 7 US Marines

According to the Associated Press, the dead, part of the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, were listed as: Maj. Thomas A. Budrejko, 37, of Montville, Conn.; Capt. Michael M. Quin, 28, of Purcellville, Va.; Capt. Benjamin N. Cerniglia, 31, of Montgomery, Ala.; Sgt. Justin A. Everett, 33, of Clovis, Calif.; Lance Cpl. Corey A. Little, 25, of Marietta, Ga.; Lance Cpl. Nickoulas H. Elliott, 21, of Spokane, Wash. and Capt. Nathan W. Anderson, 32, of Amarillo, Texas.

The Marines died Wednesday when an AH-1W Super Cobra attack helicopter and a UH-1Y Huey utility helicopter collided.  

According to USA Today, the helicopters collided over the Chocolate Mountain Aerial Gunnery Range in the desert northwest of Yuma, chosen because it simulates conditions in Afghanistan, where the Marines were soon to be deployed.

CNN gives more comprehensive information about each Marine in its report.

One of them was soon to become a father, another had just become engaged, and yet another was a former youth pastor, the AP wrote.

While one of them, Anderson, was based in Yuma, the others were from Camp Pendleton in Southern California.

"Every single one of these Marines impacted our squadron in their own special way and the entire Marine Corps aviation community is feeling their tragic loss," CNN quoted Lt. Col. Stephen Lightfoot, commanding officer of Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 469, as saying.

An investigation into the cause of the collision could take months.

In the meantime, training in Yuma was continuing for Squadron 469. Marine spokesman Lt. Tyler Balzer said, USA Today reported.

"As tragic as it is, the Marine Corps has a mission — the war in Afghanistan is not going to stop," Balzer said.

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