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Military Calls Off Search For Marine Who Went Overboard Near Philippines

Cpl. Darien J. Bjorndal/U.S. Marine Corps via Getty Images

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Will Racke Immigration and Foreign Policy Reporter

The U.S. military ended the search for a Marine who fell overboard near the Philippines after five days of intensive searching failed to turn up any trace of the servicemember.

Between Aug. 9 and Aug. 13, Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard aircraft and ships combed about 13,000 square nautical miles in the Sulu Sea, west of the Philippine archipelago.

More than 110 aerial sorties were launched in the area to look for the missing Marine, who was sailing on the amphibious assault ship USS Essex, according to the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU).

“Only after exhausting every possibility through persistent and thorough search efforts, we have concluded the at-sea search and rescue effort for our Marine,” Navy Capt. Gerald Olin, commander of Amphibious Squadron One, said Tuesday in a statement. “We appreciate the continued support provided to us from the U.S. Embassy and Philippine Government.”

The Marine, who has not been identified, was reported missing Thursday, when the Essex was operating in the Sulu Sea. After a search of the ship failed to turn up the Marine, the Navy began round-the-clock search and rescue operations with P-8 Poseidon aircraft assisted by Philippine coast guard vessels. (RELATED: Four Marines Presumed Dead After Helicopter Crash In California)

Naval investigators are looking into the circumstances leading up to the incident. Officially, the Marine’s status is still “missing” because the process to presume a servicemember dead can take up to a week after a search has concluded.

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