Following a salvage operation, the Marine Corps has recovered and identified the remains of three U.S. Marines killed in December 2018 in an aircraft mishap off the coast of Japan, according to Marine officials.
The remains of Lt. Col. Kevin R. Herrmann, 38, of New Bern, North Carolina; Maj. James M. Brophy, 36, of Staatsburg, New York; and Staff Sgt. Maximo A. Flores, 27, of Surprise, Arizona, were recovered and will be released to their families in accordance with their wishes.
“Our thoughts and prayers remain with the families and all those who loved our fallen Warriors,” Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Thomas D. Weidley, former commanding general of 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, said in a statement. “I am extremely grateful for the professionalism, dedication, and support of those who brought our Marines home.”
A total of six Marines were killed Dec. 6, 2018, after a Marine Corps KC-130 refueling tanker and an F/A-18 fighter jet collided during a training operation.
All crew aboard the KC-130 refueling tanker died, and the F/A-18′s pilot Capt. Jahmar F. Resilard, 28, was pronounced dead after he was found during an initial search and rescue operation. The F/A-18’s weapons officer was the only one to survive the accident.
The salvage operation failed to recover remains of Cpl. Daniel E. Baker, 21, of Tremont, Illinois, and Cpl. William C. Ross, 21, of Hendersonville, Tennessee.
Weidley relieved Lt. Col. James R. Compton of his command as the commanding officer of Marine All Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 242 on April 22 for a “loss of trust and confidence.” Compton’s ouster was prompted by decisions that may have surrounded the crash, a source with knowledge of the incident told Marine Corps Times.
After the salvage operation from May 27–June 7, the remains were taken to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware so medical authorities could identify them.
The KC-130J’s cockpit voice recorder and digital flight recorder were also obtained in the operation and were sent to Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, Maryland.
The cause of the accident is still under investigation.