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Marines killed in helicopter crash identified

Two attack helicopters collided in midair over the Southern California-Arizona border, killing seven Marines. One of the Marines killed in the crash has been identified by his family as Justin Everett, originally from Fresno but lived in the San Diego area.

February 24, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
The Marine Corps on Friday afternoon released the names of all seven Marines killed in a helicopter crash over the Southern California-Arizona border.

Six of the seven Marines assigned to Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 469, based out of Camp Pendleton. They were identified as Maj. Thomas A. Budrejko, 37, of Montville, Conn.; Capt. Michael M. Quin, 28, of Purcellville, Va.; Capt. Benjamin N. Cerniglia, 31, of Montgomery, Ala.; Sgt. Justin A. Everett, 33, of Clovis, Calif.; Lance Cpl. Corey A. Little, 25, of Marietta, Ga.; Lance Cpl. Nickoulas H. Elliott, 21, of Spokane, Wash.

The seventh Marine, based out of Yuma, Ariz., was identified as Capt. Nathan W. Anderson, 32 of Amarillo, Texas. All the Marines were part of the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing.

"Every single one of these Marines impacted our squadron in their own special way and the entire Marine Corps aviation community is feeling their tragic loss," said Lt. Col. Stephen Lightfoot, Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 469 commanding officer. "During this difficult time, I ask that you pray for the families and friends of the warriors we have lost."

Everett left a job as a youth pastor at a Fresno church to join the Marines after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, according to his mother, Patsy Everett.

Little was a Huey helicopter crew chief. His mother Wanda Little said he was married and expecting his first child in September.

In the meantime, crews worked to clean up the accident site on a sprawling desert range near Yuma, Ariz.

The accident happened at about 8 p.m. Wednesday during routine training operations and involved an AH-1W Cobra and an UH-1Y Huey.

The cause of the accident has not yet been determined. Officials said it could take weeks to determine what caused the two helicopters to collide in midair.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.