After several days of round the clock search involving multiple agencies, the search for missing soldiers has been discontinued. The Army and Coast Guards were searching for the soldiers who were travelling in a military helicopter that crashed during a regular training in Hawaii this past week.
Authorities have said that Army and Coast Guard officials have finally notified the families of the five missing soldiers that they were discontinuing the search.
This was announced earlier today by Maj. Gen. Christopher Cavoli, commander of the 25th Infantry Division.
Maj. Gen. Christopher Cavoli called the five missing soldiers as the Army’s best and brightest. “Our five soldiers who represent the best and the brightest of America have not been found,” he went on to add.
Meanwhile Rear Adm. Vincent B. Atkins, commander of the U.S. Coast Guard’s 14th District called the decision to stop the search as very difficult. “It is a very, very difficult decision, and it weighs heavily, particularly on the hearts of the Coast Guard…We used all of our training and professionalism in this very dynamic environment to mount the best response possible”, he went on to add.
In the meantime the missing soldiers have been identified by the Army. After a rather long wait the Army has announced the identities of the five soldiers as 1st Lt. Kathryn M. Bailey, 26, of Hope Mills, North Carolina; Chief Warrant Officer 3 Brian M. Woeber, 41, of Decatur, Alabama; Chief Warrant Officer 2 Stephen T. Cantrell, 32, of Wichita Falls, Texas; Staff Sgt. Abigail R. Milam, 33, of Jenkins, Kentucky; and Sgt. Michael L. Nelson, 30, of Antioch, Tennessee.
Army and US Coast Guard had apparently done everything possible to find the missing soldiers after the helicopter crashed. U.S. Coast Guard said earlier that it had expanded search operation up to 50 miles (80 kilometers) off Hawaii.
A Coast Guard spokesperson, Lt. Scott Carr said, “This is normal and we have the assets, and the resources to plan for it”. There were two pilots and three air crew members on board the helicopter that went missing after losing communication with another Black Hawk at about 9:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Reports suggest that two Black Hawk helicopter crews were conducting training off the western tip of Oahu the night of Aug. 15 when one aircrew lost contact with the crew whose helicopter went missing. When the pilot on the lead helicopter realized the other aircraft was missing, he immediately turned his helicopter around and began to search, Cavoli said. But he later determined he didn’t have the equipment he needed to launch a professional search so he alerted the Coast Guard, Cavoli said.
Authorities claim that they searched more than 72,000 nautical miles (115,873 kilometers) over the last week but didn’t find any sign of life.