Sailors get awards for Navy helicopter recovery efforts

Navy divers assigned to Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit (MDSU) 2, Company 2-2, are lowered into the water Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014 from the Military Sealift Command rescue and salvage ship USNS Grasp (T-ARS-51). MDSU-2 is aboard Grasp searching for the missing crew member of an MH 53E Sea Dragon helicopter that went down Jan. 8. 2014 off the coast of Virginia.


By LAUREN KING | The Virginian-Pilot | Published: February 7, 2014

Sailors and divers from the Navy's Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit 2 were presented awards Thursday for their efforts last month to salvage a downed MH-53E helicopter and recover a missing aviator off the coast of Virginia.

Three sailors assigned to Helicopter Mine Countermeasures Squadron 14 died when the MH-53 Sea Dragon went down in the Atlantic about 18 miles off the coast of Virginia Beach on Jan. 8. Four crewmembers were rescued shortly after the helicopter plunged into the Atlantic Ocean. They were taken to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital. Lt. Wesley Van Dorn, 29, a pilot, and Petty Officer 3rd Class Brian Collins, 25, a crew member, died. Lt. Sean Christopher Snyder's remains were later recovered from the helicopter wreckage.

Divers working aboard the salvage ship Grasp, finished retrieving the helicopter Jan. 19.

Adm. Bill Gortney, commander of U.S. Fleet Forces Command, presented the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal to 19 sailors from the unit, including the area search platoon, according to a news release from the Navy.

"Thanks for helping us find the 'what happened' on the helicopter, and from the family: 'thanks for bringing him home,'" he said in the news release.

The unit was also recognized for its work to salvage a downed U.S. Air Force F-16C Falcon off the coast of Virginia in August and searching for a MQ-9 Reaper in Lake Ontario in November.


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