Four Marines, based out of Marine Corps Air Station New River, North Carolina, were killed Friday when their MV-22 Osprey crashed under stormy weather conditions in northern Norway, the Marine Corps confirmed.
The Marines, all with Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 261, were Capt. Matthew J. Tomkiewicz, 27, of Fort Wayne, Indiana, Capt. Ross A. Reynolds, 27, of Leominster, Massachusetts, Gunnery Sgt. James W. Speedy, 30, of Cambridge, Ohio, and Cpl. Jacob M. Moore, 24, of Catlettsburg, Kentucky.
The Marines were in Norway as part of the large biannual NATO exercise Cold Response.
With Marine Corps assistance, the bodies of the four Marines were able to be recovered and are currently being transported to the United States, according to a Sunday statement from II Marine Expeditionary Force.
They first were reported missing Friday around 6:30 p.m. Central European Time, when they were late for their scheduled landing at Norwegian Air Force Base Bodø, Norway ― north of the Arctic Circle.
Bodø, Norway, was experiencing rain, heavy cloud cover and strong winds with gusts as high as 52 miles per hour when the accident took place, according to AccuWeather.com.
“Yesterday afternoon I was notified that an American aircraft was missing and had not arrived in Bodø according to the original plan,” Norwegian Gen. Eirik Kristoffersen, the nation’s chief of defense, said in a statement. “I feared the worst, but hoped for a long time for better news.”
After a long search through worsening weather conditions, Norwegian search and rescue crews were able to identify the crash site from the air. But they were forced to dispatch a ground rescue team to the area because conditions were too dangerous for the air crew to land.
Tomkiewicz joined the Corps in 2015 and was one of the pilots of the downed Osprey, according to the II Marine Expeditionary Force statement.
His decorations included the National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and Sea Service Deployment Ribbon.
Reynolds was the other Osprey pilot, who had joined the Corps in 2017.
His decorations included the National Defense Service Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Sea Service Deployment Ribbon, and multiple certificates and letters of appreciation, according to the Marine Corps.
Speedy was an administrative specialist with VMM-261. He shipped to boot camp in 2009.
His decorations included the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal with two gold stars, the Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Sea Service Deployment Ribbon, the Marine Corps Drill Instructor Ribbon, and multiple certificates and letters of appreciation.
Moore was the Osprey’s crew chief. He had enlisted in 2018.
His decorations included the Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, the National Defense Service Medal and the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, according to the statement.
“The pilots and crew were committed to accomplishing their mission and serving a cause greater than themselves,” Maj. Gen. Michael Cederholm, commander of 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, in a letter to his Marines and their families, according to the II MEF statement. “We will continue to execute the mission while keeping these Marines and their service on the forefront of our minds. We will never allow these Marines’ sacrifice to go unnoticed or unappreciated.”
The Marine Corps is investigating the cause of the crash, II MEF said.
It has been a few years since the last tragic accident involving a Marine Corps Osprey.
Three Marines were killed in 2017 when their MV-22B Osprey crashed off Queensland, Australia.
In 2015 one Marine was killed and 21 were injured when a Marine Osprey caught fire after a “hard landing” in Hawaii.