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Loss of Hammond-based guardsmen felt by local community

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PENSACOLA - The bodies of seven Marines and two Louisiana National Guardsmen have been pulled from the wreckage of a downed Black Hawk in a Florida sound.

The helicopter, based out of the Tangipahoa Parish National Guard compound, crashed Wednesday night. Four Hammond-based guardsmen were on the helicopter along with seven Marines from the Carolinas.

The bodies of all of the Marines were removed the Guard said in a news release Thursday. The bodies of two of the local soldiers have still not been recovered.

The group was doing a training exercise organized from Eglin Air Force Base, Florida.

As of this post, the medical examiner has identified nine of the casualties and the families notified. Their names have not been released.

Earlier Thursday, the search and rescue mission was canceled. Now, crews are working to recover the wreckage. The helicopter is in pieces in about 25 feet of water.

The wreckage was found with a sonar ping on Thursday morning, in the Santa Rosa Sound. A civilian salvage unit is being called in to recover the aircraft.
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