The U.S. Marine Corps called off its search for five Marines on Monday who went missing after two military aircrafts crashed off the coast of Japan, declaring them dead.
“I have made the determination to end the search and rescue operations for the crew of our KC-130J aircraft, which was involved in a mishap off the southern coast of Japan and to declare that these Marine warriors are deceased,” 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force commander Lt. Gen. Eric Smith said in a statement.
The incident occurred on the morning of Dec. 6 after two military planes collided and crashed into the Sea of Japan. An F/A-18 fighter jet carrying two passengers struck a KC-130 aircraft during a refueling exercise.
“It is with a heavy heart that we have shifted to recovery operations,” Air Force Lt. Gen. Jerry Martinez, commander of United States Forces in Japan commander, said in another statement. “I ask that you please keep the families and friends of these Marines in your thoughts during this incredibly difficult time.”
Seven Marines total were involved in the crash and two crew members in the F/A-18 were recovered, but pilot Capt. Jahmar Resilard, 28, of Miramar, Florida, was found dead. (RELATED: Five Marines Still Missing After War Planes Crash Off Japan)
One of the seven Marines is alive and in “fair condition.”
“Every possible effort was made to recover our crew and I hope the families of these selfless Americans will find comfort in the incredible efforts made by US, Japanese, and Australian forces during the search,” Smith said.
“Our most valued asset is the individual Marine. We remain faithful to our Marines and their families as we support them through this difficult time,” Smith added.
President Donald Trump expressed his condolences for the troops, saying, “Whatever you need, we are here for you.”
My thoughts and prayers are with the @USMC crew members who were involved in a mid-air collision off the coast of Japan. Thank you to @USForcesJapan for their immediate response and rescue efforts. Whatever you need, we are here for you. @IIIMEF
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 6, 2018
The crash and its cause are currently under investigation and the identities of the dead will be released after the next of kin are notified.
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