Home » Aviation » UPDATED: 5 Marines Still Missing Following F-18 Hornet, KC-130J Crash; Second Recovered Marine Dies in Hospital


UPDATED: 5 Marines Still Missing Following F-18 Hornet, KC-130J Crash; Second Recovered Marine Dies in Hospital

Marines with the Joint Humanitarian Assistance Survey Team, 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade, prepare for take-off aboard a KC-130J Hercules aircraft on Kadena Air Force Base on Sept. 27, 2018. US Marine Corps Photo

A Marine recovered from a crash between a Marine F-18D Hornet Fighter and a KC-130J transport aircraft off the coast of Japan has died in the hospital, according to a statement from the service.

Another Marine is in fair condition after being recovered from the crash.

“The search and rescue operations continue for the remaining five U.S. Marines who were aboard the KC-130 Hercules and F/A-18 Hornet involved in a mishap about 200 miles off of the coast of Japan around 2:00 a.m. Dec. 6,” read the statement.
“The aircraft were conducting routine training and aerial refueling was a part of the training; as to what was taking place when the mishap occurred, that is under investigation.”

The first Marine was recovered by a Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force helicopter at 5:43 a.m. local time, the Japanese Defense Ministry said in a statement. Stars and Stripes reported that the Marine was one of the two aboard the Hornet. The second Marine was recovered by the JMSDF ship JS Setoyuki (DD-131) 12:13 p.m. local time, according to Stars and Stripes.

A U.S. Marine Corps F/A-18D Hornet with Marine All-Weather Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 242, departs the runway at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan on Feb. 3, 2017. US Marine Corps Photo

A U.S. 7th Fleet P-8A Poseidon maritime surveillance aircraft out of Kadena Air Force Base on Okinawa and the Japan Coast Guard have been tapped to assist in the search.

The aircraft involved in the mishap left from Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni. Marine Aircraft Group 12 (MAG-12) is stationed at MCAS Iwakuni and comprises Hornet squadron Marine All-Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 242 (VMFA-242) and KC-130J squadron Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 152 (VMGR-152), as well as F-35B Joint Strike Fighter squadron Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121 (VMFA-121), Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 12 (MALS-12) and aviation ground support unit Marine Wing Support Squadron 171 (MWSS-171).

The following is the complete Dec. 6, 2018 statement from III Marine Expeditionary Force on the search.

MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP BUTLER, Okinawa, Japan – The United States Marine Corps confirms that two Marines have been found. One of the recovered Marines is in fair condition and the other has been declared deceased by competent medical personnel.

The search and rescue operations continue for the remaining five U.S. Marines who were aboard the KC-130 Hercules and F/A-18 Hornet involved in a mishap about 200 miles off of the coast of Japan around 2:00 a.m. Dec. 6. The aircraft were conducting routine training and aerial refueling was a part of the training; as to what was taking place when the mishap occurred, that is under investigation.

U.S. 7th Fleet is supporting ongoing search and rescue efforts with a Navy P-8A Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Aircraft flying out of Kadena Air Force Base, along with assistance from the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force and the Japanese Coast Guard. We are thankful for the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force’s, the Japanese Coast Guard’s, and the U.S. 7th Fleet’s efforts as they continue to respond to the search and rescue operation. We will provide additional information as it becomes available.

  • RDF

    Unbelievable. Truly.

    • Ctrot

      Sadly it is believable. Aerial refueling is a risking endeavor. It is surprising that this sort of thing doesn’t happen more often and is a credit to the skill and courage of those involved that it doesn’t.

      • RDF

        Its a risk. But you dont lose aircraft from it. I was an A6 Aviator. I have been even hit by plugging aircraft. You dont lose aircraft. This was some incredibly bad night rendezvous or an absolute catastrophic weird thing like somehow the tanker blew up. Even if the hornet blew up it doesnt take the tanker. Most probable is a high speed midair. Just crazy .