CAMP LEJEUNE, Onslow County - Military officials at Camp Lejeune released new information Friday morning on Wednesday's fatal helicopter accident.
SSgt. Jonathan Lewis, 31, (pictured above) died in the hard landing in a helicopter Wednesday aboard Camp Lejeune, according to Colonel Jeffrey Kenney, officer in charge of the Expeditionary Operations Training Group. SSgt. Lewis worked in the communications field as a radio chief. He is from Fauquier, Virginia and his parent command was FAST Co. from Naval Weapons Station Yorktown, Va.
Col. Kenney said Lewis was inside the CH-53E Super Stallion Helicopter when the hard landing occurred. The helicopter belongs to Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 464, Marine Aircraft Group 29, 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing. It experienced a hard landing while conducting Helicopter Rope Suspension Techniques (HRST) training in a landing zone at Stone Bay, a satellite training area aboard Camp Lejeune.
SSgt. Lewis was assigned to Fleet Anti-Terrorism Security Team (FAST), Company B, Marine Corps Security Forces Regiment, in Yorktown, Va. Lewis joined the Marine Corps in 2006 and served in the communications field as a radio chief.
"We are deeply saddened at the loss of one our students and fellow Marines," said Col. Jeffrey Kenney, officer in charge of the Expeditionary Operations Training Group. "Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends as we all mourn this tragic loss of life. It is deeply felt here and across our entire Marine Corps."
SSgt. Lewis' awards include: the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement medal, two Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation medals, three Marine Corps Good Conduct medals, National Defense Service medal, Iraq Campaign medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary medal, Global War on Terrorism Service medal, Humanitarian Service medal, and three Sea Service ribbons.
One military member is dead and 11 are injured after a CH-53E helicopter had a hard landing during a training exercise aboard Camp Lejeune Wednesday night.
The II Marine Expeditionary Force Public Affairs Officers said the CH-53E helicopter is based out of Marine Corp Air Station New River. It belongs to the Heavy Helicopter Squadron-464, Marine Aircraft group-29, 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing. The helicopter and crew experienced a hard landing while conducting training aboard Camp Lejeune at approximately 9 p.m. Wednesday.
The military defines a hard landing as "when an aircraft impacts the ground with a greater vertical speed and force than a normal landing, typically after a rapid or steep descent."
According to Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune (NHCL), one Marine was transferred there via air MEDEVAC and was pronounced dead at the hospital. Seven Marines were treated initially at NHCL; six have been evaluated and have been released while one has been admitted and is in stable condition. Additionally, four Marines were transferred to Onslow Memorial Hospital. Three have been evaluated and scheduled for release. One Marine was reported in stable condition and in transit to Vidant Medical Center in Greenville.
II MEF Public Affairs said they are not releasing the deceased service members name until 24 hours after next of kin has been notified.
"The command's priorities are to make contact with the families of the involved Marines as quickly as possible to provide them with the status of their loved ones," said Capt. Kendra Motz, deputy director of II MEF Public Affairs. "We want to ensure the Marines and family members of the units involved in the mishap have easy access to any help they may need after this tragic event."
Gov. Pat McCrory expressed sadness over the incident and the loss of a Marine's life.
"Today's tragic accident reminds us all of the dangers and sacrifices our military men and women and their families face as they protect our freedom and way of life," McCrory said. "I know all of North Carolina joins me in prayer for the brave Marine who was killed as well as the family and the fellow Marines who will mourn this tragic loss."
The incident is under investigation. Officials are not releasing any other details.