The U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) has identified four Marines killed as a result of a CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter crash in the vicinity of El Centro, California, at approximately 2:35 p.m. (PST), April 3, 2018.
All of them are assigned to the USMC Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron (HMH) 465, Marine Aircraft Group 16, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, based at MCAS Miramar.
“The loss of our Marines weighs heavy on our hearts,” said Maj. Gen. Mark Wise, commanding general of 3rd MAW. “Our priority is to provide support for our families and HMH-465 during this critical time.”
Capt. Samuel A. Schultz, 28, of Huntington Valley, Pennsylvania, was a pilot assigned to HMH-465. He joined the Marine Corps in May 2012. Schultz’ previous duty stations include Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida; Naval Air Station Corpus Christi, Texas; and MCAS New River, North Carolina. Schultz previously deployed with the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit. He has no personal awards.
First Lt. Samuel D. Phillips, 27, of Pinehurst, North Carolina, was a pilot assigned to HMH-465. He joined the Marine Corps in August 2013. Phillips’ previous duty stations include NAS Pensacola, NAS Corpus Christi and MCAS New River. He has no personal awards and has not deployed.
Gunnery Sgt. Derik R. Holley, 33, of Dayton, Ohio, was a CH-53 helicopter crew chief assigned to HMH-465. He joined the Marine Corps in November 2003. Holley’s previous duty stations include Marine Corps Base Quantico and MCAS Miramar. He previously deployed to Iraq twice in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, to Japan as part of the Unit Deployment Program, and with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit. Holley’s personal awards consist of the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (4th award), Air Medal-Strike/Flight (9th award), and the Navy and Marine Corps Good ConductMedal (4th award).
Lance Cpl. Taylor J. Conrad, 24, of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, was a CH-53 helicopter crew chief assigned to HMH-465. Conrad joined the Marine Corps in May 2016. He has no personal awards and has not deployed.
“The hardest part of being a Marine is the tragic loss of life of a fellow brother-in-arms,” said Col. Craig Leflore, commanding officer of Marine Aircraft Group 16. “My deepest sympathies go out to the families and friends of Capt. Samuel Shultz, 1st Lt. Samuel Phillips, Gunnery Sgt. Derik Holley, and Lance Cpl. Taylor Conrad. These “Warhorse” Marines brought joy and laughter to so many around them. They each served honorably, wore the uniform proudly and were a perfect example of what makes our Marine Corps great – its people! They will forever be in our hearts and minds.”
The aircraft departed the Strategic Expeditionary Landing Field at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, California, to conduct squadron training consisting of aircraft landings in unimproved zones.
The mishap occurred approximately 15 miles west of El Centro. The cause of the crash is currently under investigation.