The salvage of a Black Hawk helicopter that crashed into the waters off Florida in dense fog, killing 11 Marines and soldiers on board, could begin Friday afternoon, the military said.
Four Louisiana National Guard soldiers and seven Marines were killed when the aircraft slammed into the water during a routine training mission early Tuesday.
The Air Force said in a news release that a salvage barge was expected to arrive at the crash site by early Friday afternoon. The work to haul the shattered helicopter core from about 25 feet of water could take up to eight hours.
A Coast Guard dive team was expected to help with the operation.
Officials said the salvage and recovery would end if weather conditions deteriorated. Sporadic rain showers covered the crash site on Friday, but the heavy fog lifted after hampering recovery operations since Tuesday.
The cause of the crash — described as “high impact” by Eglin Fire Chief Mark Giuliano — is being probed by the U.S. Army Combat Readiness Center out of Fort Rucker, Alabama.
Jenna Kemp's husband, Kerry Kemp, was among the Marines killed. He was a “proud Marine, a loving husband and most wonderful father,” with a child about to turn 1, said her sister, Lora Waraksa of Port Washington, Wisconsin.
Another victim was Marcus Bawol, 27, from Warren, Michigan, north of Detroit. His sister, Brandy Peek, said he “loved everything about the military.”
The other Marines killed were identified Friday as: Capt. Stanford Henry Shaw III of Basking Ridge, New Jersey; Master Sgt. Thomas Saunders of Camp Lejeune; Staff Sgt. Liam Flynn of Queens, New York; Staff Sgt. Trevor P. Blaylock of Lake Orion, Michigan; and Staff Sgt. Andrew Seif of Holland, Michigan.
Seif had been awarded the Silver Star Medal just days before his death. The Camp Lejeune Globe reported that Seif and his teammate, Sgt. Justin Hansen, were closing in on one of western Afghanistan's bomb experts in 2012. They came under fire, and Hansen was hit. Seif moved Hansen to safer position, treated his teammate's wounds and returned fire.
All were from the 2nd Special Operations Battalion of the Marine Corps Special Operations Command.
Four Louisiana National Guard soldiers also died in the crash. Their names have yet been released.
The National Guard soldiers each did two tours in Iraq and joined in humanitarian missions after Gulf Coast hurricanes and the BP oil spill.