The search and rescue for the downed helicopter near Pensacola has become a recovery effort and the four Louisiana guardsmen and the seven Marines on board are presumed dead, Air Force officials announced Thursday morning.
"At this point, we are not hopeful for survivors," said Col. Monte R. Cannon, vice commander of the 96th Test Wing at Eglin Air Force Base.
Cannon said he has been in charge of the search and rescue.
Fire Chief Mark Giuliano said human remains have been recovered and the aircraft has been found in Santa Rosa Sound.
Search efforts continued overnight and were ongoing Thursday. The crash happened near the Eglin Air Force Base located east of Pensacola, Florida, where the craft launched. Authorities have said debris from the wreck and human remains have washed ashore, but the Coast Guard continues to look for survivors.
The Alexandria Town Talkhas identified one of the missing Hammond-based guardsmen as David Strother, a Pineville native. Thursday morning, Col. Pete Schneider, a Louisiana National Guard spokesman, declined to confirm whether Strother was among the missing.
Schneider said the guard anticipated releasing more information Thursday morning.
The New Orleans Office of the Coast Guard continues to look for survivors, Chief Petty Officer Bobby Nash said.
He said no helicopters were involved in the search Thursday morning, but rescue teams are combing the area from the water and have brought in a 24-foot flatbottom boat to assist in the effort. Wednesday, Nash said the search area was confined to about 50 square miles in the Santa Rosa Sound just off the coast of the Florida Panhandle to the east of Pensacola.
State and local teams assisted in the search Wednesday, but Thursday morning Nash said he did not have any indication that they still had boats aiding in the search.