5 Marines Dead in Osprey Crash, Second Fatal Incident for the Aircraft This Year

Marines exit an MV-22 Osprey.
Marines exit an MV-22 Osprey as part of a Marine Air Ground Task Force Integration Exercise at the Chocolate Mountain Training Area, Yuma Ariz., June 22, 2016. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Thomas Mudd)

The Marine Corps has confirmed that all five Marines who were on board a MV-22B Osprey that crashed in southern California on Wednesday afternoon are dead, according to a statement from the branch.

The Osprey tiltrotor aircraft crashed near Glamis, Calif. – a small town between El Centro, Calif., and Yuma, Ariz. According to the Marines, the aircraft was stationed at Marine Corps Air Station Camp Pendleton with Marine Aircraft Group 39.

"We mourn the loss of our Marines in this tragic mishap,” Maj. Gen. Bradford Gering, the commander of 3rd Marine Air Wing, said in the latest update issued Thursday.

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    While speaking over the radio, first responders discussed having to be cautious around the crash because of “radioactive materials,” leading to concerns that the aircraft was carrying nuclear materials. However, the Marines have confirmed that “contrary to initial social media reports, there was no nuclear material on board the aircraft.”

    The service said that recovery efforts have begun and an investigation is underway. “We ask for the public's patience as we work diligently with first responders and the unit to identify what occurred,” the Marines said in an update Wednesday night.

    The service had not released the identity of the five dead Marines citing ongoing next-of-kin notifications as of early Thursday afternoon.

    According to posts on social media, the nearby Naval Air Facility El Centro, along with country firefighters, responded to the crash.

    “While military service is inherently dangerous, the loss of life is always difficult,” the statement said. “3rd Marine Aircraft Wing is committed to providing support to the families, friends, and fellow service members of the fallen Marines.”

    The crash is the second fatal Osprey incident for the Corps this year and once again brings attention to the craft’s troubled and deadly development.

    In March, an Osprey crashed near Bodo, Norway, while participating in a military exercise, killing four Marines. That aircraft was based out of Marine Corps Air Station New River in North Carolina. Initial reports suggested weather may have been a factor.

    Although these latest crashes are the first deadly incidents with the aircraft since 2017, between 1991 and 2006, while the aircraft was undergoing testing, there were four crashes resulting in 30 deaths.

    The Wednesday crash is the third deadly incident in southern California for the military this month.

    Navy pilot Lt. Richard Bullock was killed on June 3 when his F/A-18E Super Hornet crashed near Trona, Calif., about 250 miles from Naval Air Station Lemoore.

    That same day, 29-year-old Electronics Technician 2nd Class John Deltoro was killed in a car crash while returning from training at Camp Billy Machen in Niland around 10 p.m. Friday when the car he was in drove off the road and hit a large boulder. The four other sailors in the car were all hospitalized. All five were part of a West Coast-based Naval Special Warfare unit, according to the Navy.

    -- Konstantin Toropin can be reached at konstantin.toropin@military.com. Follow him on Twitter @ktoropin.

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