Three U.S. Marines from Southern California were killed in Monday’s military plane crash in Mississippi, the Marines Corps confirmed Friday.
Staff Sgt. Robert H. Cox, 28, with 2nd Marine Raider Battalion, was from Ventura. Capt. Sean E. Elliott, 30, with Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 452, was from Orange and Sgt. Chad Jenson, 25, also with 2nd Marine Raider Battalion, was from Los Angeles.
Twelve other U.S. Marines and one Navy sailor were also killed in the Marine Corps KC-130 aircraft that crashed in Leflore County, Mississippi – about 85 miles north of Jackson – around 4 p.m. local time, according to the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency.
The group, from the Raider unit, was headed from Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina, to Yuma, Arizona, with guns, ammunition, radios and body armor to participate in training for an eventual deployment somewhere in the Middle East.
The transport plane slammed into soybean fields in the Mississippi Delta. A Marine general said Wednesday the aircraft appears to have developed problems while high in the air.
“Indications are something went wrong at cruise altitude,” Brig. Gen. Bradley S. James told reporters Wednesday in Itta Bena, Mississippi.
That squares with comments from witnesses interviewed by The Associated Press who said they saw the plane descend from high altitude with an engine smoking.
The Marine Corps said the cause was under investigation and offered no information on whether the plane issued a distress call.
The Marines said the plane was carrying personal weapons and small-arms ammunition – equipment that may have contributed to the explosion and the popping that could be heard as the wreckage burned.
It was the deadliest Marine Corps air disaster since 2005, when a transport helicopter went down during a sandstorm in Iraq, killing 30 Marines and a sailor.
The names of all the Marines and Navy sailor killed in the crash: HERE