The military refueling plane crashed in a soybean field in rural Mississippi, killing at least 16 people. The local sheriff said, “Most of them are gonna be Marines.” USA TODAY
Members of a Marine reserve squadron based out of Stewart Air National Guard Base in Newburgh were involved in the plane crash Monday that claimed 16 lives in Mississippi, officials said Tuesday.
The KC-130T aircraft that crashed was from the Stewart-based Marine Aerial Refueling and Transport Squadron (VMGR) 452, Marine Air Group-49, 4th Marine Aircraft Wing, which is part of the Marine Forces Reserve headquartered in New Orleans, according to a news release sent out Tuesday.
The crew consisted of 15 Marines and one Navy corpsman. Officials say that seven of the 16 servicemen killed were from North Carolina.
Stewart on Tuesday was quiet, as was the surrounding community, as details of the crash slowly trickle in. Media from several news organizations have gathered outside of the base, and several flowers and U.S flags were placed near the front entrance. Area residents lamented the event as a tragedy.
“It’s just horrible,” said Fred Decker, a Gardiner resident, “and it hits even harder knowing the local impact.”
The names of those killed in the crash have not yet been released, pending family notification. U.S. Marine Forces Reserve spokesman Maj. Andrew Aranda said officials are working through that process.
“That involves a Casualty Assistance Calls officer, and usually they’re accompanied by … a member from the unit and a chaplain, as well,” Aranda said in an interview Tuesday.
Emergency officials respond to the site of a military plane crash near Itta Bena, Miss., on Monday, July 10, 2017. The KC-130 spiraled into the ground about 85 miles north of Jackson in the Mississippi Delta. (Photo: Elijah Baylis, The (Jackson, Miss.) Clarion-Ledger)
Stewart is the home of the 105th Airlift Wing, an Air Mobility Command unit of the New York Air National Guard.
The unit has been a part of humanitarian, wartime and peacetime operations, including Vietnam, Desert Storm, 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina, according to www.105aw.ang.af.mil.
The Marine Aerial Refueling and Transport Squadron for more than 20 years has been a “tenant unit” at Stewart, according to Master Sgt. Sara Pastorello, who works in public affairs for the New York Air National Guard at Stewart.
Ed Trosclair, a Marine Corps veteran of the Town of Newburgh, said he was heartbroken by the news of the plane crash.
Trosclair said his nephew, a Marine stationed at Stewart, informed him of the crash. One of the people on the plane was a neighbor of Trosclair’s nephew.
The crash’s local impact only makes the situation more tragic, Trosclair said.
“It does affect me,” he said. “It just hurts so bad, it just makes me want to cry.
Trosclair lowered a U.S. flag and a Marine Corps flag on his property to half-staff in response to the crash.
“My heart goes out to the family and friends of those affected by this,” he said.
Philip Pipitone, a Campbell Hall resident shopping at Wal-Mart in Newburgh Tuesday, said the event was “a shame.”
“These people didn’t die in combat, but they dedicated their lives to serving our country,” Pipitone said.
The military refueling plane crashed in a soybean field in rural Mississippi and left a debris field that spread for miles.
Marine Forces Reserve spokesman Capt. Andrew Chrestman said in a release that “the aircraft was transporting six Marines and one member of the Navy from Marine Corps Forces, Special Operations Command and their associated equipment for routine small unit pre-deployment training at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz. All seven were from the Camp Lejeune-based 2nd Marine Raider Battalion.”
Marine officials initially said Naval Air Field El Centro, California, was the final stop.
According to the U.S. Naval Institute, the accident was the deadliest Marine plane crash since 2005.
“Marine Corps spokeswoman Capt. Sarah Burns confirmed that the last time 16 or more people died in a Marine Corps aviation incident was on Jan. 26, 2005, when 31 died in a CH-53E crash in al-Anbar Province in Iraq,” the report said.
A KC-130 aircraft is an extended-range tanker version of the Lockheed C-130 Hercules that has been modified for aerial refueling.The C-130 Hercules is a four-engine turboprop aircraft used primarily for military transportation. It’s known as a workhorse used in refueling, humanitarian missions, firefighting, search and rescue, and combat missions, according to the Lockheed Martin website.
Officials have not released information on what caused the crash.
The story will be updated throughout the day.
Information from the Clarion-Ledger in Mississippi and the Associated Press were used in this report.