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III MEF releases results of Nepal UH-1Y aircraft mishap command investigation

By III MEF Public Affairs Office | III MEF/MCIPAC Consolidated Public Affairs Office | November 6, 2015


On November 6, 2015, III Marine Expeditionary Force released the findings of the command investigation into the UH-1Y Huey mishap which occurred on May 12, 2015, during Joint Task Force 505’s humanitarian assistance and disaster relief efforts in support of Operation Sahayogi Haat in Kathmandu, Nepal.

The investigation has determined that the most probable cause of the mishap was the decision of crew, after picking up the injured civilians from a village north of Charikot, to fly the most direct route back to Kathmandu. The chosen course required a brief period over unfamiliar terrain with unstable meteorological conditions. It is believed that the aircraft, call sign “Vengeance 01” (VE01), was enveloped by rapidly developing clouds or lifted into a cloud by rising air currents. As they attempted to maneuver out of the weather conditions, they lost visual reference with the terrain and impacted the ground.

The crew of the VE01, was delivering humanitarian aid and evacuating casualties back to Kathmandu in the wake of two separate and devastating earthquakes at the time of the crash. There were six U.S. Marines, two Nepalese Army Liaison soldiers and five injured Nepalese civilians on board.

The last received radio communication was approximately 40 minutes before the mishap, so it is impossible to know precisely what occurred or the factors that influenced the crew to fly this route. Based on the investigation, the most likely explanation is that the crew of VE01 decided to take the more direct flight back to Kathmandu due to a real or perceived urgency in the condition of one or more of the embarked casualties.

The pilots and crew were experienced professionals, medically fit for flight duties and equipped with the most technologically advanced utility helicopter. The investigation concluded that mechanical malfunction or maintenance malpractices were not contributing factors to the mishap.

The Marines and Nepalese soldiers aboard VE01 showed uncompromising dedication to the humanitarian aid mission in Nepal. We celebrate their lives by remembering their courageous and selfless actions in the wake of natural disaster. The sacrifice they made for their respective countries will not be forgotten and our thoughts are prayers remain with their families at this difficult time.

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