Florida Marine lost at sea off Hawaii declared dead

Cpl. Thomas J. Jardas was 22


FORT MYERS, Fla. – The Marine Corps considered a 22-year-old from Florida who was among the 12 Marines who disappeared off Hawaii dead.

Cpl. Thomas J. Jardas and the others failed to return from night time training to Kaneohe Bay Jan. 14.

They were in two CH-53E helicopters from the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing at Marine Corps Base Hawaii, known as Super Stallions for being the largest in the U.S. military.

"It comforts me to know that he died doing exactly what he wanted to do with his life, it was noble. He was very good at it and he was beside his brothers," said his sister Haely Jardas, who is the reigning Miss District of Columbia in the Miss America Organization. 

The Coast Guard spotted the debris off Oahu and initially reported that the helicopters collided, but the cause of the crash remained under investigation.

Jardsa was a graduate of Cypress Lake High School in Fort Myers. On Thursday night, more than 250 met for a candle vigil at the school. He joined the Marines in 2011 after graduating from high school. 

Tim Jardas said he did not fight his son when he found out that he wanted to join the Marine Corps.

"My son had way more guts and courage than I ever had and I'm not sure where he got it from," his dad said during an interview with ABC News 7 in Fort Myers.  

11 other U.S. Marines who died 

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