SACRAMENTO /California Newswire/ — Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today issued the following statement regarding the deaths of Maj. Samuel Leigh, 1st Lt. Thomas Claiborne, Lt. Cmdr. Che J. Barnes, Lt. Adam W. Bryant, Chief Petty Officer John F. Seidman, Petty Officer 2nd Class Carl P. Grigonis, Petty Officer 2nd Class Monica L. Beacham, Petty Officer 2nd Class Jason S. Moletzsky and Petty Officer 3rd Class Danny R. Kreder:

“These brave men and women dedicated their lives to ensuring our safety and today we are tragically reminded of the dangers they face while protecting our state and nation. Maria and I join all Californians in expressing our respect and gratitude for their service and sadness over their deaths. Together we send our thoughts and prayers to their families and friends. Our hearts are with them during this difficult time.”

All were presumed killed on October 29 after a Coast Guard C-130 plane and a Marine AH-1 Cobra helicopter collided off the coast of Southern California. The Marine pilots were conducting routine training about 15 miles off San Clemente Island when they collided with the U.S. Coast Guard plane, which was based out of the Coast Guard Air Station in Sacramento, CA.

In honor of the victims, Capitol flags will be flown at half-staff.