A Marine Corps transport plane has plunged into a soybean field in the Mississippi Delta, killing 16 service members.
The plane is a KC-130 belonging to a Reserve unit, Marine Aerial
Refueler Transport Squadron 452, or VMGR-452, nicknamed the “Yankees”
and based at Stewart Air National Guard Base in Newburgh, N.Y., the
Marine Reserve said on Tuesday.
The flight, which took off from Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point
in North Carolina, was headed to Naval Air Facility El Centro in
California and was transporting personnel and equipment, the Reserve
said in a statement. There were 15 Marines and one Navy corpsman aboard,
Six of the Marines and the Navy corpsman were assigned to the Marine
Raiders, an elite special operations force. They belonged to the Second
Marine Raider Battalion, based at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina,
according to Maj. Nicholas Mannweiler, a spokesman for the Marine Corps
Special Operations Forces.
Major Mannweiler said the Raiders were scheduled to conduct “routine”
training in Yuma, Ariz., lasting a few days to a couple of weeks, for
small teams preparing for deployment overseas. He would not comment on
when or where they were to be sent, but the Raiders are assigned to
Central Command, which conducts operations in the Middle East, South
Asia and Central Asia, including Afghanistan and Iraq.
“They were getting calls that something was on fire,” he said.
“I don’t think they knew it was going to be that bad.
“I could see holes in the beans,” Mr. Habig said of crops that had been torn apart by the impact.
“I knew what it was. You could see what they were wearing.
“They looked like they were in civilian clothes to me,” he said, adding “Most that I saw had on gray britches.”