KC-130 Crash 15 Marines 1 Corpsman...
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  1. #1

    KC-130 Crash 15 Marines 1 Corpsman...

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    LEFLORE COUNTY, Miss. — Military investigators picked through the still-smoking wreckage of a Marine Corps transport plane on Tuesday, trying to learn what caused the aircraft, part of a Reserve unit based in New York, to plunge into a soybean field in the Mississippi Delta, killing 16 service members.

    The KC-130 plane burst into flames on impact Monday afternoon, leaving a charred furrow in the otherwise idyllic, deep-green landscape of waving bean, corn and cotton plants along United States Highway 82, and scattered fiery debris and bodies across farmland and rural roads.

    Among the first witnesses at the scene was David Habig, a crop-duster pilot who flew low over the wreckage. “Lo and behold, all I see are bodies out in the bean field,” he said. “They were everywhere. It was horrific. I’d never seen anything like it.”

    The plane, carrying 15 Marines and one Navy corpsman, belonged to Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 452, or VMGR-452, nicknamed the Yankees, a Reserve unit 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.

    Six of the Marines and the Navy corpsman belonged to the Second Marine Raider Battalion, based at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, said Maj. Nicholas Mannweiler, a spokesman for the Marines’ Special Operations Command. The command, created in 2006, is the newest — and, at about 2,800 troops, the smallest — of the military’s elite special operations forces, along with the better-known Navy Seals and Army Special 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 that battalion is assigned to Central Command, which conducts operations in the Middle East, South Asia and Central Asia, including Afghanistan and Iraq.

    The military did not publicly identify the dead, a step that usually takes place a day after families have been notified.

    “Our focus remains on notifying and supporting the families while we conduct a thorough investigation into the cause of this tragedy,” said Gen. Robert B. Neller, the Marine Corps commandant.

    Military and local officials said the cause of the crash was unclear. The KC-130, a variant of the C-130 transport plane, is configured as a tanker for aerial refueling of other aircraft, but it can also be used to transport troops and equipment. The plane has a standard crew of up to six people.

    The C-130, a four-engine turboprop built by Lockheed Martin, is a workhorse of the American military, a highly adaptable aircraft that entered service more than 60 years ago, with more than 2,500 built. It is known for ferrying people and cargo, dropping paratroopers, and operating on short and substandard runways, and versions have been made for landing on ice and snow, for electronic warfare and for use as aerial gunships.

    The model that crashed on Monday was a KC-130T, a type built from 1983 to 1995 that is being phased out in favor of a newer model, the KC-130J. The squadron at Stewart is the last Marine Unit still flying the KC-130T.

    “These birds are not so old that they need to be retired — at least, from the mechanic’s point of view,” said Alan Stinar, a former Marine sergeant and engine mechanic who was an inspector of KC-130s, calling them “extremely reliable.”

    But he added that they could also be highly temperamental, telling of crews that joked about leaving a bag of Skittles in them overnight to placate the “gremlins,” and of rubbing the nose and sweet-talking a plane with promises of a flight to Hawaii when trying to get an engine started.

    Recent reports
    have raised concerns about the upkeep of the military’s aircraft, citing a decline in operational readiness, but there has been no surge in accidents.

    The last crashes involving any types of KC-130 operated by the United States military were in 2002 — one in Pakistan and one in California. The accident on Monday was the worst military aviation accident in the United States in recent years, but far from the worst in history: In 1952, a transport plane crashed near Moses Lake, Wash., killing 87 service members.

    A few American flags and bouquets of flowers had been placed at the entrance to Stewart Air National Guard Base on Tuesday, but the base was closed to the public.

    The crash occurred around 4 p.m. in Leflore County, between the small towns of Moorhead and Itta Bena, about two hours north of Jackson, the state capital. Witnesses heard an explosion and then saw flames and a thick plume of black smoke that did not abate for hours.

    RIP Marines & Corpsmen.... RIP...

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  2. #2
    Saw this on the news, what a horrible tragedy. Prayers for the victims and their families.


  3. #3
    Never had a chance. At least it was not another helo accident. Those things were falling out of the sky left-and-right. Don't know what the answer is. The other services are not losing personnel to fatal crashes like we are. Somebody needs to figure it out - and soon.


  4. #4
    Yep, used to watch guys who I saw while on Libo come in and go right to work on aircraft. Just saying.


  5. #5
    Marine Free Member FistFu68's Avatar
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  6. #6
    A couple of members of my Combat Vets Chapter are X naval aviators and still fly. As a result I am part of a couple of their discussion groups. Here's is part of a thread;


    “Among the first witnesses at the scene was David Habig, a crop-duster pilot who flew low over the wreckage. “Lo and behold, all I see are bodies out in the bean field,” he said. “They were everywhere. It was horrific. I’d never seen anything like it.”

    “Six of the Marines and the Navy corpsman belonged to the Second Marine Raider Battalion, based at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, said Maj. Nicholas Mannweiler, a spokesman for the Marines’ Special Operations Command. The command, created in 2006, is the newest — and, at about 2,800 troops, the smallest — of the military’s elite special operations forces, along with the better-known Navy Seals and Army Special 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 that battalion is assigned to Central Command, which conducts operations in the Middle East, South Asia and Central Asia, including Afghanistan and Iraq.

    Ski Note: I would guess since the aircraft came down and pancaked inverted (upside down) then burst into a tremendous hot fire that even fire fighters could not deal with for a while as they sent in robots – but bodies were all over the fields according to David Habig – my conclusion – they were jumping out or being thrown out of the aircraft, again making me suspect something happened to the command deck cockpit

    Thanks SKI… You being a US Marine serving many combat tours in Vietnam, I’m sure you feel the loss of precious life and hopefully the cause will be determined.

    We don’t easily walk away from a tragedy like this without a REAL answer to the cause.

    This is something of a very special loss as a whole SOF team was lost and it vertebrates in many directions not just the families – imagine what they were training for and the whole chain of events that now have to be reset – their lives had great impact so now we have so much more to morn. This is going to be one heck of an accident investigation

    Ski


  7. #7
    I'll ad a footnote here, From what I've picked up apparently one of the wings came off in mid-flight thus causing the plane to corkscrew into the ground and the reason there are two different crash debris fields...

    The team was just heading to ElCentro for an Op and just used this particular plane for a Hop..

    That's all I have at the moment..


  8. #8
    My first C-130 flight from Okinawa to Da Nang ,Feb 68 I remember well .This was a sad day for families and friends of the lost Marines,Navy and service members.


  9. #9
    R.I.P Marines and navy corpsman. Condolence's to the family's. What a tragedy.


  10. #10
    This is a HORRIBLE loss of lives. I too would like to add my deepest condolences and prayers for the families of the Marines and Corpsman.

    Semper Fi,


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