By Debbie Gregory.
In the worst Marine crash since 2005, 15 Marines and a Navy Sailor were killed when their KC-130 air tanker went down Monday afternoon in the Mississippi Delta.
While the cause of the crash is still under investigation, based on the extensive five mile radius of the debris field, the plane experienced an explosion at high altitude.
“Two large impact areas are half a mile north of Highway 82 and a half a mile south of Highway 82,” said Brig. Gen. Bradley S. James, commander of the Fourth Marine Aircraft Wing, Marine Forces Reserve.
Six of the Marines and the sailor were from an elite Marine Raider battalion at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, according to the Marine Corps. It said the seven and their equipment were headed for pre-deployment training at Yuma, Arizona.
In the aftermath of the crash, emergency workers had to keep their distance from the plane because the plane was carrying explosive ordnance that resulted in several high-intensity detonations. It is not yet know if the cargo played a role in the cause of the crash.
Plumes of black smoke visible for miles across the flat landscape of the delta.
On Tuesday, just a couple hundred yards from where the plane went down, David Weeks stood on the side of the highway and played “Taps,” the song played at U.S. military funerals and memorials.
“I’m out here today to show my respect for the fallen. Felt in my heart to come out and honor them,” Weeks said.
Although not a member or veteran of the military, Weeks is a member of the Patriot Guard Riders, a group of volunteer motorcycle riders who attend the funeral services of fallen American heroes to show their respect.
The KC-130 is a four-engine propeller-driven plane that is used by both the U.S. Marine Corps. and the U.S. Air Force, and is a variant of the Cold War-era C-130 Hercules. It is used to refuel aircraft in flight and transport cargo and troops.
The plane was based at Stewart Air National Guard Base in Newburgh, New York.
The identities of those who perished have not yet been released. We at Military Connection extend our deepest condolences to the families. May their loved ones rest in peace.