US military declares five Marines dead after mid-air crash near Japan
The US military has declared five missing crew members dead after their refuelling plane collided with a fighter jet at around 2h00 on Thursday, 6 December 2018, off Japan's southern coast and halted search and recovery operations. The five crew members were on a KC-130 refuelling aircraft that collided last Thursday with an F/A-18 Hornet during regularly scheduled training. Two crew members in the F/A-18 were recovered after the accident but one died. The US Marines said the survivor was in stable condition when rescued.
The crew members were based at Iwakuni air station near Hiroshima. The US Marine Corps said that the 2h00 crash involved an F/A-18 fighter jet and a KC-130 refueling aircraft during regular refueling training after the planes took off from their base in Iwakuni, near Hiroshima in western Japan. The crash took place 200 miles off the coast, according to the US military. Japanese officials said it occurred closer to the coast, about 60 miles and that's where the search and rescue mission found two crew members.
The two aircraft were carrying seven crew members in total, two in the F/A-18 and five others in the KC-130, when they collided and crashed into the sea south of the Muroto Cape on Shikoku island in southwestern Japan. The cause of the crash is under investigation.
The Maritime Self-Defence Force, which dispatched aircraft and vessels to join in the search operation, said Japanese rescuers found one of the crew from the fighter jet in stable condition. The Marines said that the rescued crew was taken to a hospital on the base in Iwakuni but did not provide any other details.
Details of the second crew, including his or her condition, were unknown immediately. The crash is the latest in recent series of accidents involving the US military deployed to and near Japan.
The Marine Corps identified the crew members as Lt Col Kevin R. Herrmann, 38, of New Bern, North Carolina; Maj James M Brophy, 36, of Staatsburg, New York; Staff Sgt Maximo A Flores, 27, of Surprise, Arizona; Cpl Daniel E Baker, 21, of Tremont, Illinois; and Cpl William C Ross, 21, of Hendersonville, Tennessee.
"It is with heavy hearts that we announce the names of our fallen Marines," Marine Corps Lt Col Mitchell T Maury, the squadron's commanding officer, said in a statement Wednesday. "They were exceptional aviators, Marines and friends whom will be eternally missed. Our thoughts and prayers remain with their families and loved ones at this extremely difficult time."
Source: 13 WTHR