NAVARRE, Fla. (WVUE) - Following a Florida helicopter crash, the remains of two soldiers have been recovered, a Louisiana National Guard spokesman said Thursday.
Search and rescue teams had been looking for seven Marines and four soldiers after the Tuesday accident near Eglin Air Force Base, Florida.
On Thursday, the National Guard reported that the bodies of two soldiers and seven Marines were recovered. However, on Friday morning, a spokesperson could not confirm that the missing Marines had been found.
As of Thursday, the medical examiner has identified two of the casualties and the families notified, said Col. Pete Schneider of the Louisiana National Guard.
The wreckage of a downed Black Hawk helicopter was found along the Florida panhandle, officials at Eglin Air Force Base state.
"At this point, we are not hopeful for survivors and we're transitioning our search and rescue to a recovery effort," said Col. Monte Cannon, 96th Test Wing vice-commander. "Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with the family members and the units where our soldiers and Marines call home."
Crews believe the remaining soldiers are located in the wreckage in the Santa Rosa Sound, but cannot confirm anything until a civilian salvage unit is able to recover the aircraft.
"It is with a heavy heart that we announce that two of our own have perished in this tragic accident," said Maj. Gen. Glenn H. Curtis, the adjutant general of the Louisiana National Guard. "We believe the other two remain with the aircraft."
The search for 11 service members missing after a helicopter crash off the Florida coast was called off for the night Wednesday because of weather, according to Air Force spokesman Maj. Craig Savage.
Human remains washed up on a Florida beach Wednesday as crews searched for 11 missing military members involved in an Army helicopter crash.
Four soldiers involved in the crash were from a Hammond, Louisiana-based National Guard unit. Seven Marines based in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina were also on board when the helicopter went down.
Officials say two UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters assigned to the Hammond, Louisiana National Guard were participating in a routine training exercise overnight when the incident occurred.
One of the helicopters was reported missing around 8:30 p.m. Tuesday night. The helicopter flew out of Eglin Air Force Base in Florida. Debris from the helicopter was found around 2 a.m. Wednesday, according to officials at Eglin Air Force Base.
The helicopter went down off of Navarre Beach on Santa Rosa Sound, which is a barrier island in the Gulf of Mexico between Pensacola and Destin.
Curtis said both pilots involved in the crash were instructor pilots. The entire crew had several thousand hours of experience.
"At times like these, words seem to offer little comfort. We are heartbroken. We are shocked," Curtis said. "But we are a team, standing together for the families and for each other."
The names of the soldiers involved in the crash have not been released. The cause of the accident remains under investigation.
On its Facebook page, the Louisiana National Guard said, "Our hearts break with this terrible news. Military units, especially in the National Guard, are like families, and this is a tremendous loss felt by us all. These brave men were our coworkers, friends, brothers. Our thoughts, prayers and support are with their families, and we ask that you continue to respect their privacy while they grieve."