MARINE CORPS AIR STATION MIRAMAR–Four Marines killed in a helicopter crash in El Centro on April 3 were identified on Friday.
Capt. Samuel A. Schultz, 28, of Huntington Valley, Pennsylvania, was a pilot assigned to Heavy Helicopter Squadron-465. He joined the Marine Corps in May 2012. Schultz’ previous duty stations include Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida; Naval Air Station Corpus Christi, Texas; and MCAS New River, North Carolina. Schultz previously deployed with the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit. He has no personal awards.
First Lt. Samuel D. Phillips, 27, of Pinehurst, North Carolina, was a pilot assigned to Heavy Helicopter Squadron-465. He joined the Marine Corps in August 2013. Phillips’ previous duty stations include NAS Pensacola, NAS Corpus Christi and MCAS New River. He has no personal awards and has not deployed.
Gunnery Sgt. Derik R. Holley, 33, of Dayton, Ohio, was a CH-53 helicopter crew chief assigned to Heavy Helicopter Squadron-465. He joined the Marine Corps in November 2003. Holley’s previous duty stations include Marine Corps Base Quantico and MCASMiramar. He previously deployed to Iraq twice in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, to Japan as part of the Unit Deployment Program, and with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit. Holley’s personal awards consist of the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (4th award), Air Medal-Strike/Flight (9th award), and the Navy and Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal (4th award).
Lance Cpl. Taylor J. Conrad, 24, of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, was a CH-53 helicopter crew chief assigned to Heavy Helicopter Squadron-465. Conrad joined the Marine Corps in May 2016. He has no personal awards and has not deployed.
The Marines were killed as a result of a CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter crash in the vicinity of El Centro at approximately 2:35 p.m., according to base officials.
“The loss of our Marines weighs heavy on our hearts,” said Maj. Gen. Mark Wise, commanding general of 3rd MAW. “Our priority is to provide support for our families and HMH-465 during this critical time.”
“The hardest part of being a Marine is the tragic loss of life of a fellow brother-in-arms,” said Col. Craig Leflore, commanding officer of Marine Aircraft Group 16. “My deepest sympathies go out to the families and friends of Capt. Samuel Shultz, 1st Lt. Samuel Phillips, Gunnery Sgt. Derik Holley, and Lance Cpl. Taylor Conrad. These “Warhorse” Marines brought joy and laughter to so many around them. They each served honorably, wore the uniform proudly and were a perfect example of what makes our Marine Corps great – its people! They will forever be in our hearts and minds.”
The aircraft departed the Strategic Expeditionary Landing Field at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms to conduct squadron training consisting of aircraft landings in unimproved zones.
The mishap occurred approximately 15 miles west of El Centro. The cause of the crash is currently under investigation.