Search Continues for Marines Missing After Air Collision

ARLINGTON, Va. — The search continues for five Marines whose KC-130 Hercules transport/refueling aircraft collided Dec. 6 with a Marine Corps F/A-18D Hornet strike fighter over the Pacific Ocean.

The two Marines in the F/A-18D apparently ejected; one was rescued in fair condition, the other was recovered and declared dead, III Marine Expeditionary Force said in a Dec. 6 release.

“The search-and-rescue operations continue for the remaining five U.S. Marines who were aboard the KC-130 Hercules and F/A-18 Hornet involved in a mishap about 200 miles off the coast of Japan around 2:00 a.m. Dec. 6,” the release said. “The aircraft were conducting routine training and aerial refueling was a part of the training; as to what was taking place when the mishap occurred, that is under investigation.”

Forces from the U.S. Navy and Japan are assisting in the search.

“U.S. 7th Fleet is supporting ongoing search-and-rescue efforts with a Navy P-8A maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft flying out of Kadena Air Force Base, along with assistance from the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force and the Japanese Coast Guard,” the release said.

The Marine Corps has not yet released the names and units of the seven personnel involved. Marine Aircraft Group 11, headquartered at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, includes one F/A-18D squadron, Marine All-Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 242, and one KC-130J Super Hercules squadron, Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 152.

The loss of the KC-130J would be the first J-model lost by the Marine Corps. The KC-130J entered service in 2004. More than 50 have been delivered to the Marine Corps.