Military officials have named the five Marines who died when their MV-22B Osprey crashed during a training flight in Imperial County on Wednesday.
The Marines killed were:
- Cpl. Nathan E. Carlson, 21, of Winnebago, Ill., a Tiltrotor crew chief
- Capt. Nicholas P. Losapio, 31, of Rockingham, N.H., an MV-22B pilot
- Cpl. Seth D. Rasmuson, 21, of Johnson, Wyo., a Tiltrotor crew chief
- Capt. John J. Sax, 33, of Placer, Calif., an MV-22B pilot.
- Lance Cpl. Evan A. Strickland, 19, of Valencia, N.M., a Tiltrotor crew chief
They were assigned to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 364, under the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, according to a statement issued Friday night by Maj. Mason Englehart of the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing.
“It is with heavy hearts that we mourn the loss of five Marines from the Purple Fox family,” said Lt. Col. John C. Miller, the squadron’s commanding officer. “This is an extremely difficult time for [us] and it is hard to express the impact that this loss has had on our squadron and its families.”
The crash’s cause is under investigation, Englehart said.
It occurred around 12:25 p.m. Wednesday near Coachella Canal Road and Highway 78, officials said.
Early radio calls from the scene by emergency responders and social media posts suggested that the aircraft may have been carrying nuclear materials. Marine officials said later that those reports were not true.
The Osprey is a tilt-rotor aircraft that can take off and land like a helicopter and fly like an airplane by pivoting its rotors. Versions of the aircraft are flown by the Marines, Navy and Air Force to transport troops and equipment. It has a higher top speed and longer range than a helicopter but is able to hover and land in a similar manner.
The aircraft, however, has a troubled and controversial history since its first test flights in 1989.
Wednesday’s crash was one of two involving military aircraft in Imperial County during a two-day span this week.
On Thursday, a Navy helicopter went down near Palo Verde during a training flight.
One crew member was injured and all survived, officials said.
The incidents follow several other crashes nationwide that have resurrected concerns about military aviation safety — including from members of Congress — that go back several years.
In addition to those lost in the Osprey crash, another member of the military died this month in a Southern California aircraft crash. Lt. Richard Bullock, a Navy pilot, was killed on June 3 when his F/A-18E Super Hornet crashed in the desert, in the general area of Trona, the Navy said in a statement.
Spurred by these crashes, Congress may tighten requirements on the military’s aviation safety reporting, according to Defense One, a military news site.
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