Chopper down, brave marines lost but US refuses to give up, deploys fresh replacement helos

Nepal earthquake
A UH-1Y Venom, with the Joint Task Force 505, fly’s through a valley in the Sindhuli District, Nepal, May, 10. Courtesy:US Army

By Ram Khatry


17 May 2015 1:58 PM AEST: The tragic end to the search and rescue operation of the missing US Army helicopter and the ensuing loss of its six seasoned marines have not deterred the US government from fulfilling its promise of standing by the earthquake-rattled people of Nepal.

Just a day after a specialist team of the US Marine confirmed the wreckage of the UH-1Y Huey helicopter, a replacement for one of the two remaining Hueys arrived in Kathmandu yesterday, a press release of the US Defense Department confirmed.

The Pentagon had deployed three UH-1Y Hueys to Nepal in the aftermath of the April 25 earthquake out of which one is now down but the other two continue to serve the beleaguered Himalayan nation.

Another is expected to arrive today, “A second UH-1Y is expected to arrive in Nepal May 17 to replace the other remaining Huey,” said a news release by Joint Task Force 505. The replacement choppers will ensure that the two currently deployed are available for a routine maintenance, the JTF said.

“The United States military will remain committed to our mission here in Nepal,” US Marine Lt. Gen. John E. Wissler who is the commander of the Joint Task Force 505 had promised at a press conference in Kathmandu on May 15.

The relentless humanitarian services of the marines to the victims of the disaster despite the death of their fellow comrades and now the fresh arrival of the helicopters testify to the statement of the commander.

The recovery of the bodies could not be possible on Saturday due to bad weather at the site which is around 8 miles north of Charikot in Dolakha district.

According to the JTF, eight separate sets of remains have been discovered since the recovery effort began. They have yet to be positively identified. Additionally, the cause of the mishap has not been determined.

Ash Carter
Ash Carter

Earlier, US Secretary of Defense Ash Carter said through a press statement that his country was ‘heavy with grief for the U.S. Marines who perished when their helicopter went down in the mountains of Nepal’ but thanked the Nepali and Indian armies for their support in the recovery and also mourned the deaths of the Nepali soldiers.

The JTF, or Operation Sahayogi Haat (Helping Hand) as it is known in the Nepali media, is heavily involved in the humanitarian relief operations in Nepal.

As of May 11, it had already delivered 480 tons of aid and transported 993 personnel. Apart from heavy military equipment and gadgets, three Hueys, 4 MV-22 B Ospreys, two KC-130 Hercules and 4 C-17 Globemasters are involved in the operation.

The Nepal Army is deeply saddened by the loss of the US Army. “We are deeply saddened that this happened to our friends who came to help,” spokesperson Major General Binod Basnyat told southasia.com.au on May 15.

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