A salvage team recovered remains of Marines who were killed in a 2018 crash off the coast of Japan, III Marine Expeditionary Force said on Monday.
The KC-130J Hercules refueler, assigned to Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron (VMGR) 152, crashed during a refueling with a Marine F/A-18D on Dec. 6, 2018.
Lt. Col. Kevin R. Herrmann, 38, of New Bern, N.C.; Maj. James M. Brophy, 36, of Staatsburg, N.Y.; Staff Sgt. Maximo A. Flores, 27, of Surprise, Ariz.; Cpl. Daniel E. Baker, 21, of Tremont, Ill.; and Cpl. William C. Ross, 21, of Hendersonville, Tenn. were believed to be aboard the aircraft when it crashed.
“Human remains were recovered during the salvage operation. At this time, the number and identity of those recovered is not known,” read the statement. “The remains will be transferred to Dover Air Force Base, Delaware where formal identification will be made by competent medical authorities.”
The pilot of the Hornet, Capt. Jahmar F. Resilard, 28, of Miramar, Fla, was also killed in the incident. The Hornet’s weapons system officer survived.
The salvage team also recovered the aircraft’s cockpit voice recorder and digital flight recorder as part of the effort.
“These devices are being delivered to Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md. for analysis to assist in the on-going investigation,” III MEF said.
The recovery operation ran from May 27 to June 7, III MEF said.
The Navy and Marines did not immediately respond to follow-on questions on details of the salvage operation.
The announcement of the KC-130J follows the May recovery of a Navy C-2A Greyhound from 18,000 feet below the Philippine Sea. Three sailors are presumed to have died in the crash, though the Navy has not acknowledged if the operation had recovered remains.
The following is the complete June 10, 2019 statement from III MEF.
CAMP COURTNEY, Okinawa, Japan – The salvage operation related to the December 6, 2018 aircraft mishap involving an F/A-18 and a KC-130J has concluded. The operation occurred from May 27 to June 7, 2019.
The salvage effort accomplished the task of recovering the KC-130J’s cockpit voice recorder and digital flight recorder. These devices are being delivered to Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Maryland for analysis to assist in the on-going investigation.
Additionally, human remains were recovered during the salvage operation. At this time, the number and identity of those recovered is not known. The remains will be transferred to Dover Air Force Base, Delaware where formal identification will be made by competent medical authorities.
We reaffirm our deepest sympathy for all affected by this tragedy and those grieving the loss of the six Marines who perished in this accident. We also would like to express our sincere gratitude for the cooperation and expertise of the underwater salvage team.
The cause of the December 2018 aircraft mishap remains under investigation.