Six Marines based in Hawaii were killed late Thursday in a helicopter crash in southern Afghanistan, according to an online posting by their commanding officer.
Marine Corps Lt. Col. Mark Revor, commander of Camp Leatherneck in Afghanistan, said six members of the Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 363 were killed during "combat operations."
The squadron, known as the Lucky Red Lions, is based at Marine Corps Air Facility at Kanoehe Bay, Hawaii.
Col. Revor's statement appears on the squadron's official Facebook page:
"Red Lion Friends, Families, and loved Ones,
"With deep sorrow I have to confirm the news stories that you probably have already heard. Last night we lost six members of the squadron during a combat operations. Official notification has been made to all the next of kin. I will be able to release the names of the crewmembers in 24 hours. I ask that if you already know, through personal contacts, the names of those crewmembers, please respect the 24 hours of privacy afforded to those families."
A spokesman for the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan said there were no indications of any enemy activity in the area, and that the incident was under investigation.
Taliban spokesman Qari Yousef claimed insurgents shot down a Chinook helicopter in Musa Qala district of Helmand province late Thursday, according to the Associated Press.
ISAF spokesman Lt. Cdr. Ken Bailes said the aircraft was definitely not a Chinook helicopter, and CNN reported the aircraft was a Sikorsky CH-53 helicopter.
Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, Hawaii Democrat and a member of the House Armed Services Committee, issued a statement of condolence on the Marines' deaths.
"I am saddened to hear of the loss of six Hawaii Marines in Afghanistan. All who have called Hawaii home are part of our island ohana, and every loss like this touches us deeply. It is a reminder of what we ask of those few proud souls who answer our nation's call. Those we lost displayed great courage and honor in serving our country, and have made the ultimate sacrifice for their commitment. My thoughts are with their families and loved ones, and with all of the brave men and women who are facing the dangers of war today."
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Kristina Wong is a national security reporter for The Washington Times, covering defense, foreign policy and intelligence affairs. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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