On August 5, a Marine Corps MV-22 Osprey with 26 members on board crashed off the coast of Australia while attempting to land on an amphibious ship, USS Green Bay. Search and rescue efforts were immediately underway, rescuing 23 of the 26 people on board. Tragically, three Marines were killed in the crash.
Initially labeled as missing, a search and rescue operation was soon called off after the wreckage of the MV-22 Osprey was located underwater. The three Marines were declared dead, and now the Marine Corps has publicly identified the men who lost their lives in the fatal accident.
“The loss of every Marine is felt across our entire Marine Corps family. To the families of the brave Marines we lost — there is no way for us to understand what you are going through,” said Marine Corps Col. Tye R. Wallace, commanding officer of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit. “What we do know is that your Marines left a lasting impression on the 31st MEU, the Marine Corps, and the world. They will live on forever in our thoughts and our hearts. You will always be a part of the Marine Corps family, and you will remain in our prayers.”
The three fallen Marines who lost their lives in the fatal crash are
- 1st Lt. Benjamin R. Cross, 26, of Oxford, Maine. Cross was assigned to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 265. His decorations include the National Defense Service Medal and the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal.
- Cpl. Nathaniel F. Ordway, 21, of Sedgwick, Kansas. Ordway was assigned to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 265. His decorations include the National Defense Service Medal, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon, and the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal.
- Pfc. Ruben P. Velasco, 19, of Los Angeles, California. Velasco was assigned to Battery G, Battalion Landing Team, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines. His decorations include the National Defense Service Medal and the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal.
It is still unknown what caused the fatal crash, but Navy Capt. Jeff Davis said that an investigation is underway. The MV-22 Osprey was assigned to the Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 265, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, and had taken off from USS Bonhomme Richard earlier in the day and was approaching the USS Green Bay around 4 p.m. local time when it crashed into the waters 18 miles off the coast of the Shoalwater Bay Training Area in Queensland, Australia.
The families of the fallen Marines were notified before the Marine Corps released their names to the public.
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An investigation is underway by the Marine Corps to determine exactly what went wrong, causing the aircraft to crash. Issued from Base Camp Butler in Japan, the Marine Corps said in a statement, “The aircraft involved in the mishap had launched from the USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) and was conducting regularly scheduled operations when the aircraft entered the water. The ship’s small boats and aircraft immediately responded in the search and rescue efforts.”
Search and rescue operations continued, with the joint help of the Australia Defence Force, into the morning on August 6 when the Marine Corps announced that the rescue efforts were being suspended and the focus was shifting to recovery of the submerged aircraft.
The MV-22 is a hybrid helicopter/propeller aircraft which can take off and land like a helicopter, then tilts its rotors to fly like an airplane. The aircraft has since been involved in a number of fatal crashes, both during its development and since becoming an operational aircraft. The death of the three Marines this week comes immediately after the fatal crash of a Marine Corps KC-130 in Mississippi that claimed the lives of 15 Marines and 1 Navy corpsman.
The Veterans Site joins the Marine Corps and the nation in mourning the loss of these three brave men. Our thoughts and prayers are with their families, friends, and fellow service members.
Jacob H. is an award-winning journalist and photojournalist who currently resides is West Michigan with his wife. In his spare time, Jacob enjoys writing, photography, mountain climbing, and camping.