Three U.S. Marines declared dead after their MV-22 Osprey crashed off the coast of Australia last weekend were identified on Monday. 1st Lt. Benjamin R. Cross, 26, of Oxford, Maine, Cpl. Nathaniel F. Ordway, 21, of Sedgwick, Kansas, and Pfc. Ruben P. Velasco, 19, of Los Angeles were officially declared "deceased" by the Marine Corps, a U.S. defense official told Fox News.
The news followed an intensive search effort conducted by American and Australian forces.
The MV-22 crashed while on final approach to USS Green Bay, a Navy amphibious ship off the east coast of Australia, on Saturday afternoon, local time.
An official who has read the preliminary investigation into the incident told Fox News that the Marine MV-22 Osprey -- part helicopter, part airplane -- crashed into the back of the warship before tumbling into the sea.
The MV-22 Osprey had taken off from USS Bonhomme Richard earlier Saturday.
Cross was assigned to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 265 (VMM-265). His decorations include the National Defense Service Medal and the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal. Ordway was assigned to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 265 (VMM-265). His decorations include the National Defense Service Medal, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon and the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal. And Velasco was assigned to Battery G, Battalion Landing Team, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines (BLT 3/5). His decorations include the National Defense Service Medal and the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal.
“The loss of every Marine is felt across our entire Marine Corps family. To the families of the brave Marines we lost – there is no way for us to understand what you are going through,” said Col. Tye R. Wallace, Commanding Officer, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit in a statement Monday. “What we do know is that your Marines left a lasting impression on the 31st MEU, the Marine Corps, and the world. They will live on forever in our thoughts and our hearts. You will always be a part of the Marine Corps family, and you will remain in our prayers.”
Lucas Tomlinson is the Pentagon and State Department producer for Fox News Channel. You can follow him on Twitter: @LucasFoxNews