Local News

Two Illinois Marines are dead after a helicopter crashed during a training exercise in California.  Officials say First Lieutenant Thomas Heitmann and Captain Jeffrey Bland were inside the chopper when it went down at San Diego's Camp Pendleton yesterday.  Heitmann was from Mendota and has served since 2008.  Bland was from Champaign and has served since 1997.  Bland had received numerous medals during his time of service, including two Navy Marine Corps Commendation medals, the Selected Marine Corps Reserve Medal, Air Medal, Navy Unit Commendation Ribbon, Iraq Campaign Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, three Sea Service Deployment Ribbons, and the Korean Defense Service Medal.  Heitmann received the National Defense Service Medal and the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal.  The cause of the crash is under investigation.

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