Rep. Jones joins widows in fight to clear Marine pilots in crash 17 years ago

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WASHINGTON, D.C. (WITN) - Two widows of New River Marines are taking on the military in their on-going mission to clear their husbands' names.

17 years after a failed test-flight killed 19 Marines, the pilots' loved ones are getting help from Congressman Walter Jones in their efforts.

The search for the truth brought Connie Gruber and Trish Brow to Washington, D.C. Tuesday.

After several military branches denied their latest request for information, they're now demanding answers through a lawsuit.

"I would like to not be here, to not continue this fight when it comes with a personal price, emotionally, for all of us," says Brow. "But it's basic government, the Marine Corps should be held accountable."

At the time of the crash in April 2000, the Marine Corps placed the blame on the pilots, Maj. Brooks Gruber and Lt. Col. John Brow.

That answer never made sense to the widows or Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC).

Jones says the Marine Corps' response reflected an attempt to save its issue-plagued aircraft of the future, a half-plane half-helicopter known as the V-22 Osprey.

"The Marine Corps had had a lot of problems with this Osprey, and this crash seemed to be the end, so to speak," the congressman says.

The deputy defense secretary wrote a letter absolving the pilots in 2016, but the Marine Corps has not followed suit.

Frustrated, the widows and Jones asked for every military document related to the crash and its investigation.

"We ask that for our children," Gruber explains. "We ask that for grandchildren, that these men, these pilots, will never know, we also ask it for the history of Marine Corps aviation."

The trio received just one page, which was almost entirely blacked out.

That led to the suit.

If it's successful, two widows and a congressman may finally get the answers they've been seeking for a decade and a half.

Spokespeople for the Marine Corps say they could not discuss the lawsuit or the cause of the crash with the lawsuit pending.