Pilot, Commander’s Errors Blamed for Super Stallion Crash
Pilot error caused the January crash of a CH-53E Super Stallion in the California desert that killed five Tustin-based Marines, according to a preliminary report obtained by The Times.
But the report also is extremely critical of the former squadron commander for allowing the aircraft to attempt the night landing in the remote area near the Salton Sea.
Lt. Col. Sam J. Ware, the commanding officer of the Heavy Marine Helicopter Squadron 465 at the Tustin Marine Corps Air Station, was relieved of his command shortly after the crash. High-ranking Marine officers would say only that they had lost confidence in Ware, who was transferred to the East Coast.
The preliminary accident report has not been seen by all commands involved, and it could be changed during that review.
Picking Up Troops
The accident occurred about 8:30 p.m. Jan. 8 at an abandoned military test range in Imperial County, seven miles south of Salton City. Four CH-53E Super Stallions were accompanying eight CH-46 helicopters on the mission. The Super Stallions were to pick up any Marines, supplies and trash that the other helicopters could not haul.