Although much information regarding the crash has not been released at this point, the USMC has identified the pilot involved in the Wednesday morning crash of a VMFA-232 F/A-18C Hornet in Suffolk, UK. According to a USMC press release, Major Taj “Cabbie” Sareen was “deployed as part of Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force – Crisis Response – Central Command 15.2” and died in the accident.
Maj Sareen’s jet was one of six Red Devils Hornets departing RAF Lakenheath on Wednesday, on what should have been a routine, uneventful trip on their way home from Bahrain to MCAS Miramar following a six-month deployment in support of Operation Inherent Resolve.
The site of the F/A-18 crash is approximately six miles northwest of their departure airfield, and residents in the area are used to low-flying aircraft. Eyewitnesses reported a parachute landing at least mile from the crash site indicating an ejection, but these reports remain unconfirmed at this time in the investigation. Furthermore, the witness accounts report suggest that Maj Sareen delayed his ejection in order to avoid hitting the homes in the area.
Following the crash, the remaining five jets in the flight safely diverted to RAF Lossiemouth in northeast Scotland.
The Red Devils are the oldest and one of the most storied units in the Marine Corps, tracing their history back to 1925. They’ll be celebrating their 90th anniversary in the coming weeks, but sadly without one of their best, Maj Taj Sareen.
He was a decorated Marine and fighter pilot, earning several Navy and Marine Achievement Medals as well as an Air Medal, but those bullet points fall well short of describing the passionate aviator and his kind demeanor.
We have more to come on Major Sareen, as he was one of our own; but, as one might imagine, finding the right words is proving a bit difficult. In the mean time, if any of you have good Cabbie stories, we’d love to hear them!
(Featured Photo courtesy of USMC)