23 Marines Rescued in Aircraft Mishap
After extensive search and rescue efforts, the US Marine Corps identified three Marines who died after a US military aircraft crashed into waters off Australia’s east coast on Saturday.
The three marines were identified as 1st Lt. Benjamin Cross, 26, Cpl. Nathaniel Ordway, 21, and Pfc. Ruben Velasco, 19.
The aircraft known as tilt-rotor MV-22 Osprey plunged into the sea at Shoalwater Bay, near Rockhampton, during a scheduled military exercise on Saturday.
Twenty-three of the 26 personnel on board the aircraft were rescued.
The MV-22 Osprey is the primary assault support aircraft for the U.S. Marine Corps. It was part of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, which is based in Okinawa, Japan.
The US military has been in the area for training exercises with the Australian military.
The Marine Corps base in Camp Butler, Okinawa, said in a statement, “The aircraft involved in the mishap had launched from the USS Bonhomme Richard (a Navy amphibious assault ship) and was conducting regularly scheduled operations when the aircraft entered the water.”
The accident took place while attempting to land the aircraft on a Navy ship.
Rescue and search operations were launched following the incident. US military aircraft and boats headed the operation. The Australian navy found the wreck on Monday, one day after a search and rescue effort for the final three missing Marines aboard the plane was suspended.
The Australian Defence Force (ADF) supported the US-led recovery operation.
US Marine Corps and Families Mourn Death of Three Marines
The US Marine Corps expressed grief and sadness for the loss of its members.
Col. Tye Wallace, commanding officer, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, said in the statement, “The loss of every Marine is felt across our entire Marine Corps family.”
The Marines “left a lasting impression on the 31st MEU, the Marine Corps, and the world. They will live on forever in our thoughts and our hearts,” he said.
Grief overwhelmed the families of the missing Marines.
Cross’ family members told CNN affiliate WGME that their loss is “unbearable.”
“We’re gonna miss FaceTime with him whenever he got a chance and certainly any leave that he would have gotten,” said Cross’ father Robert Cross.
Valerie Cross, the Marine’s mother, said, “we have so many awesome memories, but to know that we will never make any more with him is unbearable.”
Lt Cross’ brother Ryan Cross on Monday said his younger sibling had the “highest moral character” and was “devoted” to the Marine Corps.
“It’s something that you hope that you never have to experience,” he said.
Cross attended the Virginia Military Institute on a Naval ROTC scholarship and was a former V-22 pilot from Bethel, Maine.