One of five Marines killed in a helicopter crash in California this week was identified Friday as a native of New Hampshire, prompting an outpouring of condolences.
Captain Jack Casey, 26, from Dover, N.H., died with four fellow servicemembers when their CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter crashed during a training flight in stormy weather near San Diego, according to the US Marine Corps.
Governor Chris Sununu said Casey’s death was “a profound loss for his family, his community, New Hampshire, and the country.” He directed flags to fly at half-staff on the day of Casey’s burial and said he and his wife, Valerie, are mourning the deaths of the five Marines.
Casey is the second New Hampshire service member killed in a helicopter crash in the last three months. In November, Army Staff Sergeant Tanner W. Grone, 25, of Gorham, was among five special operations aviation soldiers killed when their helicopter crashed Nov. 10 into the Mediterranean Sea during an aerial refueling training exercise.
Casey was a 2019 graduate of the Virginia Military Institute, the university said in a statement. He majored in physics and was the Company 1 commander for his senior year, the statement said.
“It is difficult to find words in the wake of such a jarring loss,” said Capt. Eli Facemire, VMI associate chaplain and class president of the VMI Class of 2019. “Jack was absolutely loved by our class, and all our brother rats knew that Jack loved them.”
Dover Mayor Robert Carrier and the City Council issued a statement Friday calling Casey a “cherished member of our community,” and offering condolences to his family.
“This event has left our city heartbroken, and we share in the mourning of a life dedicated to service and sacrifice. . . . His service to our nation was immeasurable, and our thoughts are with his family during this incredibly difficult time,” the statement read, in part.
“Dover has lost a true hero, and his legacy will forever be remembered in our hearts. We join the entire community in honoring Capt. Casey’s memory and his ultimate sacrifice for our country,” the statement said.
Casey was a 2015 graduate of Saint Thomas Aquinas High School, the Catholic school said in a statement posted to Instagram.
“He was an exceptional student . . . which translated to his career in the United States Marine Corps,” the statement read, in part. “Jack’s courage and commitment to serve our country and fight for our nation’s freedoms, epitomizes the values in our school community.”
Saint Mary Academy, a Catholic school in Dover, said Casey was a former student, sharing photos and condolences on social media.
“Jack was not only a dedicated student during his time with us but also a courageous individual who made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our nation’s freedoms,” the school said. “Jack’s unwavering commitment to service and bravery exemplifies the values we hold dear in our community.”
Casey joined the Marines in 2019 and was promoted to captain in 2023, with decorations that include the National Defense Service Medal.
Capt. Jack Casey gave his life serving his country. Valerie & I are deeply saddened as we mourn the loss of these Marines. Capt. Casey’s death is a profound loss for his family, state, and country. I have directed flags in the State of NH to half-staff on the day of interment. https://t.co/n9cMgkIS5s— Chris Sununu (@GovChrisSununu) February 9, 2024
Military officials identified the other fallen Marines as Lance Corporal Donovan Davis, 21, of Olathe, Kan.; Captain Miguel Nava, 28, of Traverse City, Mich.; Sergeant Alec Langen, 23, of Chandler, Ariz.; and Captain Benjamin Moulton, 27, of Emmett, Idaho.
Davis and Langen were both crew chiefs; the other Marines were pilots.
Lieutenant Colonel Nicholas J. Harvey, commanding officer of the Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 361, called the crash “a tragedy that is every service family’s worst fear.”
The Super Stallion vanished late Tuesday night on its way back to Marine Corps Air Station Miramar from Creech Air Force Base. It was found Wednesday morning near the mountain community of Pine Valley.
The military confirmed Thursday that all five Marines were killed in the crash and that efforts were underway to recover their remains, which will take weeks because of the rough terrain and weather. In the meantime, Marines are staying with the remains round-the-clock to adhere to their ethos of never leaving any Marine behind.
The military is investigating the crash.
Senator Jeanne Shaheen, a New Hampshire Democrat, said she was “deeply saddened” to learn of Casey’s death.
“My thoughts are with his family and loved ones as we honor his heroic service and sacrifice on behalf of our nation,” she wrote on X, formerly Twitter.
Senator Maggie Hassan, also a New Hampshire Democrat, said on social media that she was “heartbroken” by the news.
Material from the Associated Press was used in this report. Travis Andersen and John R. Ellement of the Globe staff contributed.