- Associated Press - Sunday, May 17, 2015

PHOENIX (AP) - A U.S. Marine from Phoenix who died in a helicopter crash in earthquake-ravaged Nepal was looking forward to starting a new chapter in California, his mother said Sunday.

Lance Cpl. Jacob “Jake” Hug, 22, was going to be stationed at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in the San Diego area in July and start taking college classes, Andrea Hug said. After high school, he had chosen the Marines instead of college.

“He thought it would be a great way to start his life, and it would be something that would make us proud,” Andrea Hug told The Associated Press. “He wanted to do this. He got the job he wanted.”

Officials formally identified Hug and seven other crash victims Sunday. They included five Marines and two Nepalese soldiers

The UH-1 “Huey” they were on went missing Tuesday while delivering rice and tarps to survivors. The U.S. relief mission was deployed after a magnitude-7.8 earthquake hit Nepal on April 25, killing more than 8,200 people. A magnitude-7.3 quake struck the country the day of the helicopter’s disappearance, killing at least 117 people and injuring about 2,800. The helicopter had dropped off supplies in one location and was en route to a second site when contact was lost.

Andrea Hug said the moment that she heard a Marine helicopter was missing, she knew it was her son’s. “When I first saw the report, my heart sank. I knew he was on the helicopter,” she said.

It was about four or five hours later when Marine officials showed up at her house to confirm her fears. “I opened the door and said: ‘I know why you’re here,’ ” Andrea Hug said.

The wreckage of the UH-1 “Huey” was found Friday after days of intense searching in the mountains northeast of Kathmandu, Nepal’s capital. Three bodies were retrieved Friday by Nepalese and U.S. military teams, and the rest were found Saturday.

The cause of the crash has not been determined. Andrea Hug said she wants to know what led to the crash and if anything was faulty with the helicopter. “If our guys are going out there and they’re trying to help other people, we need to make sure they’re properly equipped,” she said.

Hug, who enlisted in 2012, was a combat videographer and based in Okinawa, Japan. He was one of six siblings. He thrived on the camaraderie of the Marines, but he also loved spending time with family, his mother said. He was known for his goofy smile and for wanting to help others.

“He cared about people and just wanted to make sure people were happy,” Andrea Hug said. “He liked to play Dungeons & Dragons with my brothers and the other kids because he was always the bad guy. They joked he was always the bad guy because he was the good guy in real life.”

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