Family and friends in Jacksonville are mourning the loss of a Marine from the area who died Monday along with 15 others when a military transport plane crashed in the Mississippi Delta after developing problems at cruising altitude, according to military officials. Investigators are still trying to determine why the KC-130 air tanker plummeted to the ground in rural MS on Monday afternoon. The fiery crash scattered wreckage for miles and sent a pillar of black smoke rising over the countryside.
Witnesses said they heard low, rumbling explosions when the plane was still high in the sky Monday, saw the aircraft spiraling toward the flat, green landscape and spotted an apparently empty parachute floating toward the earth. Their identities were not immediately released.
No official details were immediately available on the circumstances of the crash in northern Mississippi's LeFlore County, about 100 miles (160 km) north of Jackson, the state capital.
The Marine Corps said the cause was under investigation and offered no information on whether the plane issued a distress call. Andrew Aranda told reporters no foul play was suspected. He said Brendan loved the outdoors and was considering a job as a park ranger or a fish and game warden. The county coroner, meanwhile, brought in body bags to remove the dead.
The flight took off from Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point in North Carolina and was heading to Naval Air Field El Centro in California and was carrying members from a Newburgh, New York-based reserve squadron. Stewart was closed to reporters and did not issue a statement.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with the entire Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command (MARSOC) family at this time", said the MARSOC chief of staff. They were traveling to Arizona for training.
The present incarnation of the Marine Raiders was formed in 2006 amid the global war on terror.