The U.S. military has identified five Marines who were declared dead after their refueling plane collided with a fighter jet last week off Japan‘s southern coast.
Search and recovery operations have ended after finding only one survivor, who was aboard the fighter jet.
The five crew members identified Wednesday were on a KC-130 Hercules refueling aircraft that collided with an F/A-18 Hornet during regular training. The warplanes crashed into the sea south of Japan’s Shikoku island.
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.
They were based at Iwakuni air station near Hiroshima as part of the Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 152.
“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. “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.”
The two crew members in the fighter jet were recovered after the accident, but one died. He was earlier identified as Capt. Jahmar Resilard, 28, of Miramar, Florida. The Marines said the survivor was in stable condition when rescued.
The search for the five missing crew, joined by Japanese and Australian forces, was halted Tuesday and they were declared dead.
The cause of the crash is still under investigation, the Marines said.
It said Herrmann served in the Marine Corps for 16 years and is survived by his wife and three daughters. He was promoted posthumously to the rank of lieutenant colonel.
Brophy, who served 12 years in the Marine Corps, is survived by his wife, son and daughter.
Flores served nine years in the Marine Corps and is survived by his wife.
Baker joined the Marines two years ago and is survived by his mother and father.
Ross also served two years and is survived by his mother and father, the Marines said.
The crash is the latest in a series of recent accidents involving U.S. military forces deployed in and near Japan.
Last month, a U.S. Navy F/A-18 Hornet from the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan crashed into the sea southwest of Japan’s southern island of Okinawa, though its two pilots were rescued. In mid-October, a MH-60 Seahawk also belonging to the Ronald Reagan crashed off the Philippine Sea shortly after takeoff, causing non-fatal injuries to a dozen sailors.
Two years ago, a MV-22 tilt-rotor aircraft Osprey crashed during a nighttime refueling exercise off the southern island of Okinawa, injuring two crew members.
More than 50,000 U.S. troops are stationed in Japan under a security pact.