KATHMANDU, Nepal – The recovery of a UH-1Y Huey helicopter that went missing May 12 and was later discovered on May 15 has resumed today, 8 miles north of Charikot, in the Dolakha district of Nepal.
The recovery effort resumed at 6:30 a.m. Nepal Standard Time. Nepalese special forces, U.S. Marines, and Air Force pararescuemen were inserted near the wreckage site and worked together to gather information about the helicopter and its crew.
United States Secretary of Defense Carter Ash said, “We also join our Nepalese partners in mourning the loss of their service members who were onboard the helicopter at the time, and we thank the Nepalese and Indian governments for their continued support in search and recovery operations”.
The helicopter, with six Marines and two Nepalese soldiers aboard, was delivering humanitarian assistance to victims of Nepal’s April 25 magnitude-7.8 earthquake when it went missing.
“This tragedy is a reminder of the vital but dangerous role that American service members play in delivering humanitarian assistance and disaster relief,” the defense secretary said. “Our mission continues in Nepal, and we remain dedicated to answering the call when disaster strikes, both in the Asia-Pacific and around the world.”
Eight separate sets of remains have been discovered since the recovery effort began. They have yet to be positively identified. Additionally, the cause of the mishap has not been determined.
The aircraft belonged to Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 469, from Camp Pendleton, California and arrived in Nepal directly from Exercise Balikatan 2015, which was underway in the Philippines.
Humanitarian Assistance Mission
JTF 505 arrived in Nepal April 29 to conduct humanitarian aid and disaster relief operations following the April 25 magnitude-7.8 earthquake. The crashed helicopter was supporting casualty evacuations following a second earthquake of magnitude 7.3 that occurred May 12.
The U.S. and Nepalese service members aboard the Huey “were determined to go forward with their duties, eager to contribute to our mission to alleviate suffering and come to the rescue of those in need,” U.S. Marine Lt. Gen. John E. Wissler, the Joint Task Force 505 commander, said during a press conference May 15.
“The United States military will remain committed to our mission here in Nepal,” he said.
A UH-1Y Huey arrived in Nepal today to replace one of the two remaining Hueys deployed May 16 in support of Operation Sahayogi Haat. A second UH-1Y is expected to arrive in Nepal May 17 to replace the other remaining Huey.
The aircraft are scheduled for routine maintenance and the arrival of the new helicopters ensures uninterrupted support for the humanitarian assistance mission.