Marine aircraft disaster: What we know about the crash and victims

A U.S. military plane crashed in a Mississippi soybean field on Monday afternoon, killing 15 Marines and a Navy Corpsman. Here’s what we know about the incident and the victims.

What happened?

The KC-130 transport aircraft went down at about 4 p.m. local time in Leflore County, the Marine Corps Special Operations Command said Tuesday in a Facebook post. 

Six of the Marines and the sailor were from the 2nd Marine Raider Battalion at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, the post said. The special forces members and their equipment were headed for pre-deployment training in Yuma, Arizona.

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Brig. Gen. Bradley S. James, commanding general, 4th Marine Aircraft Wing, Marine Forces Reserve, said Wednesday they were headed to El Centro, California, before going to Yuma. 

"Indications are that something went wrong at cruise altitude," he said. 

James also said that there were two impact sites. One site was approximately a half-mile north of U.S. 82, and the second site about a half-mile south of it, he said. 

Who were the victims?

Nine Marines were from Newburgh, N.Y., and six Marines and a Navy Corpsman were from Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, according to James. 

The plane was based at Stewart Air National Guard Base in Newburgh. 

On Friday, the Marine Forces Reserved identified the Marines and sailor killed the crash.

They are: Maj. Caine M. Goyette; Cap. Sean E. Elliot of Orage, Calif.; Gunnery Sgt. Mark A. Hopkins of Chesapeake, Va.; Gunnery Sgt. Brendan C. Johnson of Chittenden, Va.; Staff Sgt. Joshua M. Snowden of Dallas Texas; Sgt. Julian M Kevianne of Dallas, Texas; Sgt. Owen J. Lennon of Rockland, N.Y.; Cpl. Daniel I. Baldassare of Monmouth, N.J.; Cpl. Collin J. Schaaff of Pierce, Wash.; Staff Sgt. Robert H. Cox of Ventura, Calif.; Staff Sgt. William J. Kundrat of Frederick, Md.; Sgt. Chad E. Jenson of Los Angeles, Calif.; Sgt. Talon R. Leach of Callaway, Mo.; Sgt. Joseph J. Murray of Duval, Fla.; Sgt. Dietrich A. Schmieman of Benton, Wash.; and PO2 Ryan M. Lohrey of Middletown, Ind.

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What has the response been?

President Donald Trump tweeted Tuesday that the incident was “heartbreaking,” and that he and First Lady Melania Trump “send our deepest condolences to all!”

Vice President Mike Pence tweeted that he and his wife Karen Pence “are praying for the families of the Marines who lost their lives.” Others also offered their condolences.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.