View Full Version : Marines' contributions praised Memorial honors sacrifices of two Osprey test crews BA

06-02-08, 07:44 AM
MILITARY >> Marines' contributions praised Memorial honors sacrifices of two Osprey test crews BACKGROUND
June 1, 2008 5:00 am


A large crowd gathered outside the National Museum of the Marine Corps yesterday fell silent as it watched two Osprey aircraft glide overhead.

The flyover honored eight Marine pilots and crew members who were killed during test flights of the Osprey in 2000.

Their lives are now memorialized with a 10-foot-tall black granite obelisk that stands in Semper Fidelis Memorial Park at the museum in Triangle.

The families of the eight Marines raised $85,000 to erect the memorial.

North Stafford resident Carol Sweaney is the widow of test pilot Lt. Col. Keith Sweaney. She said she hopes the memorial reminds people of the contributions made by her husband and his fallen comrades.

"It really is such a wonderful tribute to all these guys," Sweaney said.

The Osprey, or MV-22, is an innovative aircraft that can lift off like a helicopter and glide like a plane. But the machine took nearly two decades to develop before it became fully operational.

Retired Marine officer Jim Schafer was a member of the Osprey test team with Keith Sweaney.

He described the bond that formed between the pilots and crew. They spent time brainstorming in the aircraft's hangar as they tried to solve its quirks, Schafer said.

"I miss my buddies," he said, fighting back tears. "We did it as a team, officer and enlisted. And because we believed in this aircraft, and we didn't give up we made it."

An Osprey recently re turned from a seven-month deployment to Iraq. It logged 4,000 flight hours, carried 18,000 passengers and delivered 1.4 million pounds of cargo in record time, according to Col. John Torres, who served on one of the Osprey test teams.

"The V-22 gives the operational flexibility and agility to get places we just could not with our legacy aircraft," Torres said.

Michael Sweaney, Keith Sweaney's son, was pleased to hear about the Osprey's deployment.

"He didn't die in vain," Michael said of his father. "I'm really glad it's deployed now."

The 20-year-old college student said he's considering joining the Marines and pursuing a career in aviation like his father.

"I would like the chance to be able to fly myself," he said.

Kafia Hosh: 540/735-1977
Email: khosh@freelancestar.com

In 2000, eight Marine pilots and crew members were killed in two test flights of the MV-22, or Osprey, an aircraft with the unique ability to lift off like a helicopter and fly like a plane.

The eight Marines were memorialized yesterday with a monument bearing their names at the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Triangle.

Lt. Col. John A. Brow

Maj. Brooks S. Gruber

Staff Sgt. William B. Nelson

Cpl. Kelly S. Keith
DEC. 11, 2000 CRASH

Lt. Col. Keith M. Sweaney

Lt. Col. Michael L. Murphy

Staff Sgt. Avely W. Runnels

Sgt. Jason A. Buyck