Grieving family members of the five Marines who died in a helicopter crash during a deadly storm in California earlier this week said Saturday that their deaths are the latest example of fatal and unnecessary accidents in the military.
Steven Langen, the father of Sgt. Alec Langen, 23, who was serving as crew chief onboard the CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter that went down in the mountains 45 minutes outside of San Diego Tuesday, told The Post that his son’s death is a recent case of what has become “an all too familiar story in the military community.”
“Maybe this is the one instance to where they wake the f–k up and they say, ‘What are we doing to our service members? We’ve got to stop this,’” he said.
On Tuesday, the group was heading back to the Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego from the Creech Air Force Base outside of Las Vegas as California was pounded with unprecedented rainfall and snow that had made flight conditions treacherous and unstable.
Officials said Thursday that an investigation was ongoing into the cause of the crash, but Bradford Moulton, uncle of victim Capt. Benjamin Moulton, 27, questioned why his nephew and his fellow Marines were in the air during “a thousand-year storm.”
“They’re Marines, they fly in nasty weather, they do what they’re supposed to do … but I sure wish the operations officer would have kept them on the ground,” he said Saturday.
The fatal crash came almost three months after five Army special operations soldiers were killed when their helicopter went down in the Mediterranean Sea during an aerial refueling training exercise.
Eight Air Force special operations service members were also killed during a November training exercise when their CV-22 Osprey crashed off the shore of Yakushima Island, Japan, en route to Okinawa.
The following month, a Marine was killed and 14 others injured when their amphibious combat vehicle rolled over during training at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton just north of San Diego.
Aviation experts previously told The Post that the torrential weather conditions more than likely contributed to the fatal helicopter crash that also took the lives of Capt. Jack Casey, 26, Lance Cpl. Donovan Davis, and Capt. Miguel Nava.
“Not only did it not have to happen, it should not have happened,” said Davis’ father Gregory, 53, a retired naval aviation officer.
The Marines’ grieving relatives all said their kin had been set on enlisting and following in their family members’ footsteps from a young age.
Steven Langen said he had served as a Marines crew chief from 1986 to 1995 and flew the same type of helicopter as his son, Alec — who he believed “did it better.”
Langen recalled Alec saying he only wanted one present ahead of his 17th birthday party.
“The next thing you know, (there’s) a knock at the door. And there’s the Marine recruiter that is standing there,” he said. “All he wanted for his birthday was to sign up one year early for the delayed entry program.”
He said his son died “doing what he loved,” but has left behind his 21-year-old wife, who he had married just four months prior.
Gregory Davis said his son had been surrounded by the Navy and Marine Corps his entire upbringing, beginning with his birth on Naval Air Station Whidbey Island in Washington.
“He was so proud to be a Marine, he loved his job, he loved what he did,” his father said.
“We’re proud of Donovan and everything he was able to accomplish in his short 21 years.”
Benjamin Moulton, his uncle told The Post, had his sights set on becoming a jet pilot for Marines, just like his grandfather, who had been a Marines pilot and achieved the rank of colonel before retiring.
Moulton was “a very brilliant kid” who received a full ride to the University of Washington on an ROTC scholarship and ended up being selected to pilot helicopters in the military branch.
“He was going to be a Marine pilot no matter what,” his proud uncle shared.
Maj. Gen. Michael J. Borgschulte, the commanding general of the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, previously said the Marines killed in the helicopter crash “were serving a calling greater than self and were proud to do so. We will forever be grateful for their call to duty and selfless service.”
The Post has reached out to the Marines for comment. The families of Casey and Nava could not be reached.