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Navy ends search for Marine missing off Azores

NAVAL STATION ROTA, Spain — The Navy called off its search for a missing Marine pilot, whose F/A-18 Hornet fighter jet crashed into the eastern Atlantic Ocean this past weekend.

Capt. Franklin R. Hooks II, 32 of Pasco, Fla., was killed while conducting a routine training mission from the USS Harry S. Truman near the Azores islands on Saturday, according to a Navy news release.

Search and rescue teams stopped looking for Hooks on Sunday night around 8:45 p.m. European Central Time, said Senior Chief Petty Officer Scott Fleming, a spokesman for the 6th Fleet.

Crews riding in inflatable boats in addition to sailors aboard the carrier and other ships nearby scanned a 250-square-mile area, looking for any sign of the aviator. They found the wreckage, but could not find Hooks.

The Navy began looking for the pilot early Saturday morning when the plane disappeared from radar and was declared missing.

An investigation board is trying to determine what caused the plane to go down.

The fighter jet was one of 11 planes assigned to the Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, S.C.-based Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 115, known as VMFA 115 for short.

The unit is nicknamed the “Silver Eagles.”

The squadron deployed with the Norfolk, Va.-based Truman earlier this month.

The carrier and its strike group are in the eastern Atlantic as part of this summer’s massive “Summer Pulse ’04” exercise.

Seven aircraft carrier strike groups deployed across the globe to five different areas to test how rapidly the fleet could respond to an emergency or crisis.

The exercise wraps up next month.


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