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Irishman among dead in Florida helicopter crash
Friday 13 March 2015

[Published by Irish Times :]

An Irish-born US marine has died following a helicopter crash off the coast of Florida earlier this week.

Liam Flynn, originally from Clane, Co Kildare, was one of the seven marines and four army soldiers aboard the Black Hawk helicopter that crashed on Tuesday in Navarre, Florida.

Mr Flynn is survived by his wife Destiny, his 11-month-old daughter Leilani, his parents and his seven siblings.

The Coast Guard suspended its search-and-rescue operation in the waters off the Florida Panhandle on Thursday, an acknowledgment that the marines and army soldiers were unlikely to be found alive.The Louisiana National Guard has said two of the four soldiers’ bodies had been recovered as part of the search operation in the Santa Rosa Sound, about 40 kms east of Pensacola, and that the search for the other two would continue. The helicopter was also recovered.

The soldiers had been on a training mission, flying over the water in dense coastal fog, when their helicopter was declared missing Tuesday night.

The Marines were part of a special operations regiment from Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. The four soldiers, the aircrew, were members of the National Guard’s 1-244th Assault Helicopter Battalion out of Hammond, Louisiana.

On Wednesday, some military officials had maintained some hope that the victims of the crash would be found alive.

“At this point, we are not hopeful for survivors and we’re transitioning our search and rescue to a recovery effort,” Col. Monte Cannon, 96th Test Wing vice commander at nearby Eglin Air Force Base, said in a statement Thursday. “Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with the family members and the units where our soldiers and Marines call home.”

Two of the other marines on board the helicopter have been identified as Marcus Bawol (27) of Warren, Michigan, and Kerry Kemp of Port Washington, Wisconsin.

A spokesman for the US Marine Corps said the names of all the marines and army soldiers who were on board the helicopter would be released on Friday afternoon.

Additional reporting from Agencies