A Marine sergeant from the Valley was one of five service members killed in a military helicopter crash near San Diego earlier this week, according to his family.

Authorities say the CH-53E Super Stallion vanished late Tuesday night while returning to Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego after training at Creech Air Force Base, northwest of Las Vegas. The wreckage was located Wednesday morning near the mountain community of Pine Valley, about an hour away from San Diego.

Family told ABC15 Thursday that 23-year-old Alec Langen of Chandler, Arizona, was aboard the helicopter at the time of the crash. He was serving as the Crew Chief on the flight.

Sgt. Langen was a crew chief with Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 361, Marine Aircraft Group 16, 3rd Marine Air Wing.

Military officials also said: “Langen enlisted in the Marine Corps on September 14, 2017, and was promoted to the rank of Sergeant on October 1, 2022. His decorations include the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, Good Conduct Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, National Defense Service Medal, and two Sea Service Deployment Ribbons.”

On Friday, the military confirmed Langen as one of the victims and identified the others on board as Lance Cpl. Donovan Davis, 21, of Olathe, Kansas, a CH-53E helicopter crew chief; Capt. Benjamin Moulton, 27, of Emmett, Idaho, a CH-53E helicopter pilot; Capt. Jack Casey, 26, of Dover, New Hampshire, a CH-53E helicopter pilot; and Capt. Miguel Nava, 28, of Traverse City, Michigan, a CH-53E helicopter pilot.

A recovery mission was still underway Thursday with emergency crews working to reach the area amid severe weather.

“Our fallen warriors’ fellow Marines have remained by their side – as Marines do – taking shifts throughout the night at the mishap site, keeping watch over them, despite the hazardous weather conditions. Our fallen Marines were – and continue to be – guarded by their brothers and sisters,” according to a statement from the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing Commanding General Thursday night.

Sgt. Langen had dreamed of becoming a Marine since he was a child, according to his father, Steven, who says he had previously flown in the same helicopter as his son.

“Ever since he was three, he was like, ‘I want to do what daddy did,'” said Steven. “I did the same thing. I was in the same helicopter, same everything from 1986 to 1995.”

“Being a Marine to Alec was everything. Steve pinned his wings on him when he finished training,” said Caren, Sgt. Langen’s mother. “He idolized his father.”

Family says the young Marine had gotten married in January.

“We mourn the tragic loss of five U.S. Marines earlier this week during a training flight enroute from Nevada to California. My prayers are with these brave Marines and their families, loved ones, and teammates,” Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III said Thursday. “As the Marine Corps investigates this deadly crash, it is yet another reminder that across our nation and the world our selfless service members put their lives on the line every day to keep our country safe. The entire Department of Defense honors these brave Marines’ service and grieves their passing.”

The cause of the crash remains under investigation.