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Hearses remove remains of Marines & corpsman killed in Monday's crash

(WITN)
Published: Jul. 10, 2017 at 9:18 PM EDT
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A somber moment in Mississippi as more than a dozen hearses carry the remains of the fallen Marines a Navy corpsman killed in Monday's plane crash.

The crash of the KC-130 was the deadliest Marine Corps air disaster since 2005.

Seven of the 16 killed were members of a special operations battalion at Camp Lejeune.

The military transport place took off from Cherry Point on Monday and was en route to the west coast, carrying the MarSOC team to Arizona for routine pre-deployment training.

Officially the Marine Corps has yet to identify those killed in the tragedy.

The base commander at Camp Lejeune says the outpouring of local support after Monday's deadly plane crash in Mississippi is helping families on the base deal with the tragedy.

Sixteen service members were killed when a KC-130 crashed into a soybean field. Six Marines and a Navy corpsman were members of the 2d Raider Battalion at Camp Lejeune.

"As Marines we are a family, and all we want to do is be in support of that organization," said Col. Michael Scalise. "You know, its very sad, and whatever we can to support those families, we're there to support, and you can feel that out in town as well. I mean people are offering what they can do and I just think that's a great statement about what we as Marines and sailors do as part of our military as well as our community."

The names of the victims have yet to be released, though MarSOC said earlier today that a press conference could take place today.

A Marine general said the place was at cruising altitude when something went wrong. He said there were two large impact areas on the ground, about a mile apart.

The plane took off from Cherry Point and was en route to El Centro, California and then Yuma, Arizona. It was transporting the special operation Marines there for routine pre-deployment training.

"Obviously, that's extraordinarily sad what's happened to some of the families for our MARSOC brethren," said Col. Scalise. "The installation has been receiving lots of condolences from the city, from the local areas, we greatly appreciate that. The families are in our prayers, we've been routinely told that they're in the community's prayers as well. You know, that's appreciated, it really is."


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The 15 Marines and a Navy sailor killed in a plane crash Monday in Mississippi came from all over the country. Six of the Marines and the sailor were from an elite Marine Raider battalion at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. Nine were based out of Stewart Air National Guard Base in Newburgh, New York, home of a Marine Aerial Refueling and Transport Squadron.

Here are brief portraits of some of the victims:

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Staff Sgt. William Joseph Kundrat, 33, grew up in Frederick, Maryland, where the Marine's parents, Joseph and Lynda, still live.

His mother confirmed her son's death in a telephone interview Wednesday with The Frederick News-Post.

"Every breath of air you take, all the things you're able to do, you can do those things because of people like my son," she told the newspaper. "I'll never forget that."

Kundrat graduated in 2002 from Gov. Thomas Johnson High School in Frederick, where he played football and lacrosse. He also was an Eagle Scout.

After graduation, he joined the Marines. And in 2004, Kundrat married classmate Ashley Cregger, according to the paper. It said they lived in Holly Ridge, North Carolina, and had two children together.

Kundrat served in Iraq, his mother said, later joining the Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command 2nd Marine Raider battalion stationed at Camp Lejeune. Said his mother: "He was a great Marine."

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Gunnery Sgt. Brendan Johnson, 46, told his father he had the best job in the Marine Corps.

Kevin Johnson of Colchester, Vermont, recalled his son said, "I get to fly everywhere." His son was based at Stewart, traveling back and forth across the Atlantic and Pacific and touring many countries.

Brendan Johnson joined the Marines after graduating from Johnson State College in Vermont. A fine arts major, Johnson once surprised the family with portraits he painted based on old pictures of his grandfather and father-in-law when they graduated from Navy boot camp.

The elder Johnson said his son, who was taking on more administrative work, was looking to retire next year. Plans included possibly returning to school for a master's degree and then moving from Newburgh New York, to Montana, home to his wife Anna. He said Brendan loved the outdoors and was considering a job as a park ranger or a fish and game warden.

"He was thinking of looking into that, but he said, 'You know, I've got some time,'" Johnson said. "We'll miss him."

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Sgt. Julian Kevianne, 31, joined the Marines in 2009 because he wanted to protect and defend the country, his brother told the Detroit Free Press.

"The Marines knocked on my mother's door at 2 this morning," Carlo Kevianne said late Tuesday. "They said his plane went down, and they weren't able to find him."

A new concrete walkway was poured Tuesday at Carlo Kevianne's home. Julian's mother, Tina Albo, carved a tribute to her late son: "Peace of my heart is in heaven."

John Allen, a cousin of Kevianne, told The Detroit News that Kevianne talked about joining the military when he was younger. Allen said Kevianne could be quiet with people he didn't know, "but once he was comfortable with you, he was a loud blast of fun."

"We don't have any words right now. We're hurting," sister Tania Kevianne, 27, told The New York Daily News. "He was the best man."

Kevianne, a flight engineer, was based at Stewart and lived with his wife Sherry Jennings-Kevianne in New Windsor, New York.

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Owen Lennon, 26, grew up in Pomona, New York, playing football and tennis for Ramapo High School in Rockland County before graduating in 2008.

A man answering the phone at the family's home in Pomona confirmed the death to The Journal News, but said the family was grieving and declined to comment.

Lennon's sister, Kelly Lennon, posted a remembrance on Facebook, saying, "You may have been the youngest, but we always looked up to you. Our hero, Owen Lennon. (broken heart) sending love to the other USMC families that lost loved ones last night."

Lennon was stationed at Stewart.

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Joseph Murray's family recalls him as a ukulele player, former surfer kid and deeply religious family man who excelled in the Marine Corps.

Terry Murray told reporters Wednesday the 26-year-old special operations Marine had been a surfer at Sandalwood High School in Jacksonville, Florida, who surprised his military veteran parents by joining the Marines.

The father said his son was at the center of family life and his Marine units, sharing his Christian faith by serving others and his country. Terry Murray said one Marine told him that Joseph hummed praise songs constantly on patrol.

"When Joseph stopped singing praises, they took their safeties off their weapons, because they immediately thought something was up," Terry Murray said.

Murray leaves a widow, Gayle, and four children — a 5-year-old, a 3-year-old, and twin 1-year-olds.

"He loved to play his guitar and ukulele for us," Gayle Murray said in a statement. "What he wanted most in the world besides our happiness was to destroy evil on this earth.

Murray was stationed at Camp Lejeune.

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Dan Baldassare, 20, had wanted to be a Marine since he was in middle school, his friend Dan McGowan told WPIX-TV .

"He actually would bring military gloves to football practice and play with them," said McGowan, who drove his friend to practice in high school. "He was a patriot and all he wanted to do was serve our country. Everyone had a lot of respect for Dan."

On Wednesday, after the crewmaster of the KC-130 died in the Mississippi crash, a marine sergeant guarded the home where Baldassare grew up in suburban Colts Neck, New Jersey.

That sergeant told the Asbury Park Press that Baldassare's family wanted privacy and was declining comment.

"We're so sorry and our heart is just breaking, just breaking for them," neighbor Rosalind Innucci, said of Baldassare's parents and sister. Innucci has lived on street for 14 years.

Baldassare was stationed at Stewart.

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Staff Sgt. Joshua Snowden, a flight engineer on the transport plane, grew up in the Dallas area and graduated from Highland Park High School in 2004, having already signed up for the Marines, The Dallas Morning News reports.

Sara Quarterman, Snowden's sister, declined comment Wednesday to The Associated Press, saying "now is not a good time." She said family members would release a statement later.

On Facebook, Quarterman wrote Tuesday that her 31-year-old brother "loved God, his family and friends, and his country. And he died serving his country and God."

Snowden himself often displayed his Texas roots and love of the Dallas Cowboys on Facebook, even while stationed at Stewart.

"I can tell you that Josh loved his family and friends, God, his country, and country-western music and dancing," Snowden's aunt, Linda Hughes, told the Times Herald-Record of Middletown, New York. "He was one of the warmest, kindest, more patriotic people I've ever known."

The Associated Press contributed to this article.


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As we continue to learn more about the Marines from Camp Lejeune that died Monday in the KC-130 plane crash that killed 16, families of those lost have started to come forward.

Their names are expected to be released Thursday, but we now know the name of one of those men after his father spoke publicly.

New video released of the crash sight reveals an active scene on the ground in Mississippi.

Two separate and very large impact areas, roughly one mile apart from the crash, show a large debris pattern.

The remains of that Marine Corps cargo truck lay scattered throughout the area as investigators continue their search from the ground looking for more answers.

The father of Joe Murray, a Camp Lejeune Marine on board the plane, came forward Wednesday reacting to the loss of his son.

"Other people could have said a lot about him, but no one knew him the way he shared with me quiet moments," Terry Murray says. "And I felt very compelled I needed to speak for him."

Terry Murray said that his 26-year-old son joined the Marine Corps out of a love for his family.

"He served in the Marine Corps for them," he says. "He served in the Marine Corps for me and you. He wasn't in the Marine Corps for retirement or pay, or to go see wonderful places in the country. He was there to serve others."

A devout Christian, Murray's church community is also in mourning following the tragedy.

His pastor, Donnie Hutto, has known Joe since he was ten years old and says the loss has been hard on the members of congregation of Atlantic Beach Assembly of God Church that knew Joe so well.

"There's no doubt that he impacted us greatly, so we're just proud to have known Joseph and the Murray family, a very precious family," Pastor Hutto says.

Seven of the 16 service members on board were from the 2nd Marine Raider Battalion at Camp Lejeune. Both the city of Jacksonville and its community members continue to pay their respects to the lives lost.

You can find signs of a city in mourning with flags lowered to half staff at both the city hall and the city cemetery.

All but the center jet flowing at the Freedom Fountain to honor those who pass through Jacksonville in service to their country.

For two veterans, it was this city that brought them together.

"Friendship in the military, it's a very precious thing," says Edward Luedtke, a retired USMC master sergeant.

A precious gift that allows Luedtke and Steve Ryan, a retired chief Navy corpsman, to share a few laughs Wednesday, but inside, it's a somber day of reflection.

"I was heartbroken," Ryan says of learning the news that the KC-130 tanker was carrying Camp Lejeune military members.

The cause of the crash is still not certain, but military officials did release preliminary information Wednesday in a press conference.

Brig. Gen. Bradly James says, "Indications are that something went wrong at cruise altitude."

Ryan and Luedtke says this tragedy is a reminder of the times they served.

"Since 1978, I made a pledge that I would always be there for my Marines, and even though I've been retired for 27 years, they're still my Marines," Ryan says.

"As a Marine, I can always count on a corpsman to be right there with me," Luedtke says.

Now they both say victims' families need to be able to count on their communities.

"I pray the community will come out in droves to support these families," Ryan says.

"They just have to be reassured that there is help," Luedtke says.

At the Freedom Fountain in Jacksonville, the Onslow Civic Affairs Committee will host an observance on Friday at noon in honor of those who lost their lives in this crash.


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A Marine general says it appears something went wrong at cruise altitude that brought down a KC-130 plane, killing all 16 service members on board.

The plane spiraled into a soybean field about 5 p.m. EDT Monday, spreading debris for miles and resulting in fiery wreckage that burned for hours.

The KC-130 was assigned to a reserve unit out of Newburgh, New York and was taking seven members of the 2d Marine Raider Battalion from Camp Lejeune to training in Arizona. The plane had taken off earlier Monday from Cherry Point.

Brig. General Bradley James, commanding general of the 4th Marine Aircraft Wing, Marine Forces Reserve said there are two large impact areas about a mile apart from the crash and there is a large debris pattern.

General James said the plane was en route to El Centro, California and then onto Yuma, Arizona. He said air traffic control lost the plane on radar and a short time later large amounts of smoke could been seen in the area.

Names of those killed in the crash are expected to be released tomorrow morning, according to a MarSOC spokesman.


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A deadly plane crash took the lives of 16 service members, after crashing in a Mississippi field on Monday.

The Department of Defense has not yet released the names of the victims of Monday's military plane crash, but some family members of those lost are speaking out.

Family members of a Vermont Marine say their loved one, Gunnery Sergeant Brendan Johnson, is among the dead.

Johnson's father talked about what he's going to miss most about his son.

"Well, I think he was a very gentle person. He loved the outdoors. He was looking forward to retirement next year because he said it was time to move on and let some of the other kids take over. He had a great sense of humor. He was very kind to people, his mother and other family members. And everything. He loved it. He loved to fly," said his father Kevin Johnson.

Kevin Johnson says his son had been in the Marine Corps for 23 years.

At this time, it is not clear where Johnson was based out of.

The NBC affiliate in Dallas says Staff Sgt. Joshua Snowden, 31, was among the 15 Marines killed. Reports say Snowden was based in New York.

The Detroit Free Press is reporting that Julian Kevianne, 31, is also one of the service members killed.

Kevianne joined the Marines in 2009 and his brother says it was because he wanted to protect and defend our country, according to the paper.

The Marine Corps says six of the Marines and one Navy sailor killed in Monday's KC-130 crash were from Camp Lejeune.

Officials will release the names of every service member killed in the aircraft crash around 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, according to Camp Lejeune spokesman Matt Fahy.


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The Marine Corps now says six Marines and a sailor from Camp Lejeune were killed in Monday's KC-130 crash in Mississippi.

The KC-130 tanker had taken off from Cherry Point and later crashed. All 16 people on the aircraft were killed.

The seven from Camp Lejeune were assigned to the 2d Marine Raider Battalion. Their names have not yet been released.

The tanker spiraled into a soybean field about 5 p.m. EDT Monday, spreading debris for miles and resulting in fiery wreckage that burned for hours.

The plane was assigned to Marine Aerial Refueling and Transport Squadron 452, a reserve unit based in Newburgh, New York.

The Marines say the flight originated at Cherry Point and was transporting personnel and equipment to Marine Corps Station Yuma, Arizona for pre-deployment training.

In 2015, seven MARSOC Marines from the same battalion were killed in a training accident when the Louisiana National Guard helicopter they were in crashed off the coast of Florida.


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The Marine Corps says a plane from a reserve unit in New York state crashed Monday in a Mississippi field, killing 16 on board.

The KC-130 refueling tanker had taken off earlier in the day from the Cherry Point Air Station. A Cherry Point spokesman said none of those on board were stationed in Havelock.

The tanker spiraled into a soybean field about 4 p.m. Monday, spreading debris for miles and resulting in fiery wreckage that burned for hours.

The plane was assigned to Marine Aerial Refueling and Transport Squadron 452, a reserve unit based in Newburgh, New York. The crew and passengers were 15 Marines and one Navy corpsman, according to a press release.

Marine Major Andrew Aranda said all of those on the aircraft were from the New York reserve squadron.

The Marines say the flight originated at Cherry Point and was transporting personnel and equipment to Naval Air Field El Centro, California.

"On behalf of the Marine Corps Reserve, I extend my deepest sympathies to the loved ones of those who perished in last night's tragedy," said Lt. Gen. Rex McMillian, commander of Marine Forces Reserve. "The Marines and Sailor involved in this incident were among our finest. They dedicated their lives to our core values of Honor, Courage and Commitment. They will never be forgotten."


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Marine Corps officials have confirmed to WITN that the military plane that crashed in LeFlore County, Mississippi Monday took off from Cherry Point.

But Mike Barton, public affairs director at the Air Station says there were no Marines from Cherry Point on the aircraft.

Officials are in the process of notifying next of kin.

Marines says the plane was assigned to a reserve unit and the Marine Corps Forces Reserve is handling the investigation.

Federal Aviation Administration officials contacted the Marine Corps when the aircraft disappeared from air traffic control radar over Mississippi.

The KC-130 transport aircraft crashed into a field in rural Mississippi, killing at least 16 people aboard and spreading debris for miles, officials said.

The cause of the crash is unknown at this time and the crash is under investigation.


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A U.S. military plane crashed into a field in rural Mississippi on Monday, killing at least 16 people aboard and spreading debris for miles, officials said.

Leflore County Emergency Management Agency Director Frank Randle told reporters at a late briefing that 16 bodies had been recovered after the KC-130 spiraled into the ground about 85 miles (135 kilometers) north of Jackson in the Mississippi Delta.

Cherry Point is the home of a KC-130 squadron, as well as Texas, New York and California.

Marine Corps spokeswoman Capt. Sarah Burns said in a statement that a KC-130 “experienced a mishap” Monday evening but provided no details. The KC-130 is used as a refueling tanker.

Andy Jones said he was working on his family’s catfish farm just before 4 p.m. when he heard a boom and looked up to see the plane corkscrewing downward with one engine smoking.

“You looked up and you saw the plane twirling around,” he said. “It was spinning down.”

Jones said the plane hit the ground behind some trees in a soybean field, and by the time he and other reached the crash site, fires were burning too intensely to approach the wreckage. The force of the crash nearly flattened the plane, Jones said.

“Beans are about waist-high, and there wasn’t much sticking out above the beans,” he said.

Jones said a man borrowed his cellphone to report to authorities that there were bodies across U.S. Highway 82, more than a mile from the crash site.

Greenwood Fire Chief Marcus Banks told the Greenwood Commonwealth that debris from the plane was scattered in a radius of about 5 miles (8 kilometers).

Jones said firefighters tried to put out the fire at the main crash site but withdrew after an explosion forced them back. The fire produced towering plumes of black smoke visible for miles across the flat region and continued to burn after dusk, more than four hours after the crash.

Aerial pictures taken by WLBT-TV showed the skeleton of the plane burning strongly.

“It was one of the worst fires you can imagine,” Jones said. He said the fire was punctuated by the pops of small explosions.

Officials did not release information on what caused the crash or where the flight originated.