The U.S. Marine Corps has officially called off the search for the remaining five missing Marines that were aboard a KC-130 Refueler that collided with an F/A-18 Hornet last Thursday. One crew member from the Hornet was recovered and treated at a local hospital before being released on Monday. The other, Captain Jahmar F. Resilard, 28, was declared dead shortly after he was pulled from the Pacific.
***UPDATE*** (1315/Dec 11, 2018)
— III MEF Marines (@IIIMEF) December 11, 2018
“After an update from the Joint Personnel Recovery Center, and a review of all available information, I have made the determination to end the search and rescue operations for the crew of our KC-130J aircraft which was involved in a mishap off the southern coast of Japan and to declare that these Marine warriors are deceased,” wrote LtGen. Eric M. Smith, Commanding General of III MEF.
“Every possible effort was made to recover our crew and I hope the families of these selfless Americans will find comfort in the incredible efforts made by US, Japanese, and Australian forces during the search.”
Although the identities of the five Marines lost have not yet been released, III MEF indicated that all of the families had been notified of the decision.
The investigation into just what went wrong in the early hours of last Thursday morning is ongoing, though the Marine Corps has acknowledged that a collission took place between the KC-130 and Hornet during night refueling operations — widely considered to be among the most dangerous activities military aviators conduct on a regular basis.
The flight data and cockpit voice recorders from the KC-130 have not yet been recovered, according to Smith, but once they are, they should provide some much needed insight into just what went wrong.
“All of us in the Sumo family are extremely saddened following the announcement of the conclusion of search-and-rescue operations,” Lt. Col. Mitchell Maury, commander of Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 152, said in the statement.
“We know this difficult decision was made after all resources were exhausted in the vigorous search for our Marines. Our thoughts are heavy, and our prayers are with all family and friends of all five aircrew.”
Feature image courtesy of PACOM