TOKYO — None of the six airmen survived Monday’s crash of a B-52 off Guam, Air Force officials announced Wednesday evening.
By Wednesday afternoon, the massive three-day search by military members, federal workers and Guam firefighters and police shifted from rescue to recovery as analysts began identifying what remains have been found.
“Losing this bomber crew has been a tragedy felt by everyone here and across the Air Force,” said Brig. Gen. Doug Owens, 36th Wing commander at Andersen Air Force Base in Guam, in a statement. “Our deepest sympathies and prayers are with the families of these Airmen as we continue to support them during this difficult time.”
The military identified only one member of the crew — Maj. Christopher Cooper — as of Wednesday evening. The identities of the other five airmen were withheld pending family notification, according to a press release.
Five of the six airmen aboard were stationed at Barksdale Air Force Base, La., and were deployed to Guam with the 20th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron as part of a routine schedule to keep bombers stationed at Andersen.
The other crew member was identified by a family member earlier in the week as Col. George Martin, a doctor in Andersen’s medical command.
B-52s, the Air Force’s longest-range bomber, usually carry a crew of five. It was unclear why Martin was aboard the plane, which was on a training flight and meant to be part of the island’s celebration of Liberation Day.
On Wednesday, Owens said the scope of the search has been a massive cooperative effort covering a 7,000-square-mile area.
“I extend our sincerest gratitude to the men and women involved with this effort,” Owens said in the statement. “We are truly grateful for the passion and professionalism they continue to put into the recovery operations.”
A board of officers is investigating the accident.
The plane was carrying no weapons at the time of the crash. Recovery teams are searching in waters up to 1,000 meters deep, an Air Force spokesman said.