THE PENTAGON – Marine Corps officials identified the three service members who were killed in the Sunday crash of an MV-22B off the coast of Darwin, Australia.
The Marines were Cpl. Spencer Collart, 21, Capt. Eleanor LeBeau, 29, and Maj. Tobin Lewis, 37. All three were assigned to “the Red Lions” of Marine Medium Tiltrotor (VMM) Squadron 363 that was forward deployed as part of Marine Rotational Force – Darwin.
Collart, who enlisted in 2020, was the MV-22B Osprey crew chief for VMM-363, according to a statement. LeBeau, an MV-22B Osprey pilot for VMM-363, commissioned in 2018. Lewis, who commissioned in 2008, was the executive officer of VMM-363.
“We are deeply saddened by the loss of three respected and beloved members of the MRF-D family,” Col. Brendan Sullivan, commanding officer of MRF-D, said in the release. “Our thoughts and prayers remain with the families and with all involved.”
The cause of the crash is still under investigation.
As of Monday, there was no stand down for the MV-22B platform as a result of the crash, Pentagon Press Secretary Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder told reporters. Last year, a fault in the MV-22B design resulted in the crash of an aircraft that killed five Marines. So far Pentagon officials did not indicate the fault had caused Sunday’s crash.
“We need to allow time for the investigation to take its course,” Ryder said. “I’m not aware of any service activity as it relates to any kind of messages in terms of potential stand-downs or anything like that. Again, we need to look at the data here and look at each situation and judge it on its own merits. But of course, safety is always going to be a priority when it comes to aircraft and aviation operations.”
The crash happened in a remote area, Australian Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles told Australian Broadcast Corporation Radio in an interview.
Local Australian agencies were able to get on the scene quickly, Marles told ABC Radio. Recording of aircraft on scene shortly after the crash descired a “significant fire” at the crash site.
“Twenty-three people were on board and 20 people have survived the crash, which is remarkable. And that is in no small part due to the assistance that was able to be provided by those who are on the scene almost immediately,” Marles said.
The crash will be investigated by both the U.S. and Australia, Marles told Sky News First Edition.
“Australian authorities will look at this as well, given that the deaths have occurred in Australian territory,” Marles said. “But we’ll work closely with the United States around the jurisdictional basis of the various investigations. And inevitably, when we have an incident of this kind, the various authorities which have jurisdiction here and are required to investigate the accident work very closely together, and we’ll make sure that that happens with the United States as well.”
Collart previously served in Jacksonville, N.C., and Pensacola, Fla. He earned the National Defense Service Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and the Sea Service Deployment Ribbon.
LeBeau previously served in Pensacola, Jacksonsville and Corpus Christi, Texas. She earned the the National Defense Service Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and the Sea Service Deployment Ribbon.
Lewis previously served in Pensacola, Corpus Christi, Jacksonville and Okinawa, Japan. He had two Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medals, the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, the Navy Unit Commendation, the National Defense Service Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and four Sea Service Deployment Ribbons.