The uncle of one of the five Marines killed in last week’s deadly California helicopter crash spoke out after the tragedy, arguing the aircraft never should have taken off during the rare winter storm.
Uncle of Captain Benjamin Moulton, Bradford Moulton, said he doesn’t “understand” how the training mission continued when it could have been postponed after the storm, calling it a “stupid mistake” during “Fox & Friends.”
“That’s something that I personally cannot understand. Having worked with the military for most of my career, I know the military does hazardous missions all the time, and they train all the time, but this was a highly volatile storm,” Bradford told Steve Doocy on Monday. “They had hurricane-force winds. These helicopters, they were flying, they don’t have defrosters on the windshields. If their rotors ice up, they’re going down. They were flying at an altitude of 5400ft, which was right where the snow and the rain mixes.”
“They shouldn’t have been off the ground. It was a training mission. They could have waited four or five hours till the storm passed and then go, but some operations officer made the call, and they left,” he continued. “It’s a terrible tragedy for all of these families.”
Benjamin was killed alongside his fellow Marines: Sgt. Alec Langen, 23, Lance Cpl. Donovan Davis, 21, Capt. Jack Casey, 26, and Capt. Miguel Nava. The group was traveling in a CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter before it crashed in the San Diego mountains.
They were flying from Creech Air Force Base in Nevada to Marine Corps Air Station Miramar near San Diego on a routine training exercise during what Bradford previously called a “thousand-year storm.”
The last known contact with the Super Stallion was at about 11:30 p.m. Tuesday, when waves of downpours and snow were hitting the region during an “atmospheric river.”
Benjamin was commissioned into the Marine Corps on March 29, 2019, and was promoted to the rank of Captain on Aug. 1, 2023. His decorations include the National Defense Service Medal.
“Ben was an awesome kid. He was a super smart kid. Probably one of the smartest kids to ever come out of the school district,” Bradford said of his nephew. “Got a full-ride scholarship, ROTC scholarship to the University of Washington. Graduated in three years with a political science degree, went to officer candidate school, was second in his class in OCS, and was the company commander.”
“He… won [a] marksmanship award in basic training. He was the best shot in his entire unit,” he continued. “He was a captain of the University of Washington boxing team. He liked to hunt and fish and build cars, and he was a blacksmith and a knife maker. And he was just a good, good kid, and it’s just a tragedy that he’s gone over a stupid mistake.”
The crash is currently under investigation as the families of the fallen Marines press the Defense Department for answers.
“You couldn’t get a better kid, just had a super moral compass, and he was going to be a Marine if it killed him. Well, he made it to Marine, and they killed him,” Bradford said. “Well, that’s all we can say.”
“That’s all you can say,” Doocy replied as he fought back tears. “I am so sorry for your loss. Captain Ben Moulton was 27 years old. May he rest in peace.”
Fox News’ Brie Stimson contributed to this report.