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Names released for 15 Marines, sailor who died in plane crash

The 16 servicemembers killed Monday, July 10, 2017, in a crash in Mississippi have been identified.

DEFENSE DEPARTMENT

By DIANNA CAHN | STARS AND STRIPES Published: July 14, 2017

WASHINGTON — The Marine Corps on Friday released the names of the 15 Marines and one sailor who were killed Monday in the fiery crash of a Marine KC-130T tanker-transport aircraft in the Mississippi Delta.

The plane was carrying seven members of the Marines’ elite special operations 2nd Raider Battalion, including six Marine commandos and a Navy hospital corpsman attached to the unit stationed at Camp Lejeune, N.C. They were heading to a pre-deployment training exercise in Yuma, Ariz., the Marine Corps said.

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The other nine killed in the crash were crewmembers from the Marine Aerial Refueling and Transport Squadron 452, Marine Air Group 49, 4th Marine Aircraft Wing at Stewart Air National Guard Base in Newburgh, N.Y.

The plane took off from Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point in North Carolina headed to Naval Air Facility El Centro, Calif., when what appeared to be a malfunction at cruise altitude sent the aircraft spiraling to the ground, landing in pieces of a large. There were two areas of impact on opposite sides of a highway and a debris pattern that spanned 2-3 miles, Brig. Gen. Bradley S. James, commanding general, 4th Marine Aircraft Wing, said this week.

“The entire MARSOC (Marine Special Operations Command) community mourns this tragic loss of life and our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of these brave men,” Col. Steven Grass, deputy commander of MARSOC, said in a news conference Friday at Camp Lejeune.

Investigators and recovery teams have been sifting through debris since the crash Monday evening, collecting remains and trying to determine what went wrong about 4 p.m., when the plane fell off the radar.

Grass did not release any new information about the investigation into the crash or what went wrong.

He confirmed that the unit was from the same company of the 2nd Raider Battalion that suffered a loss of seven commandos in a helicopter crash off the Pensacola coast of Florida in 2015.

“That is a tragic coincidence,” he said. “However it does not affect how we move out to care for our fallen, to take care of their families and move on as an organization.”

He said he was impressed by “the absolute strength and resilience” of the community.

“The Marines and sailors of MARSOC have been similarly tested before,” he said. “Our motto is Spiritus Invictus, or unconquerable spirit. As a team and as a family we are going to pull together and see this through.”

The dead servicemembers were from across the country – California to Maryland, Texas to Vermont. A Marine Forces Reserve spokesman said the force does not release the ages of its servicemembers, and some hometowns were not given at the request of families.

The 16 who died:

The crewmembers, Marine Aerial Refueling and Transport Squadron 452

Maj. Caine Goyette. He was the aircraft commander and pilot and had served in the Marine Corps since 1994. He had deployed in Operation Enduring Freedom in 2005 and again in 2014, and served on a Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force from December 2011-April 2012 and from June-July 2012, assisting security operations in Africa.

The active-duty Marine earned numerous awards, including three Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medals, two Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals, four Sea Service Deployment Ribbons, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Marine Corps Recruiting Ribbon, two Humanitarian Service Medals, and Global War on Terrorism Service Medal.

Capt. Sean E. Elliott, 30. He was an aircraft commander from Orange County, Calif., who served in the Marine Corps since 2009. Elliott deployed to the western Pacific from Aug. 2016-February 2017.

The active-duty Marine earned a Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, two Sea Service Deployment Ribbons, Korean Defense Service Medal, two Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medals, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and National Defense Service Medal.

Gunnery Sgt. Mark A. Hopkins. He was a tactical systems operator and mission specialist from Chesapeake, Va., and served in the Marine Corps since 2001. He served on the tsunami relief mission in southeast Asia in January 2005. He also deployed three times for Operation Enduring Freedom, from July to Augist, 2001, August-September 2005 and May-June 2014

The active-duty Marine earned the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal; two Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals; five Marine Corps Good Conduct Medals; a Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal; four Sea Service Deployment Ribbons; four Humanitarian Service Medals; Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and numerous other awards.

Gunnery Sgt. Brendan C. Johnson, 46. He was a fixed wing aircraft crew master from Chittenden, Vt., who served in the Marine Corps since 1994. Johnson deployed for Operation Enduring Freedom to Southwest Asia from July-November 2002 and Operation Enduring Freedom/Iraqi Freedom Southwest Asia, May-July 2003. He was active reserve.

Johnson earned three Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals; Air Medal-Strike/Flight; four Marine Corps Good Conduct Medals; two Armed Forces Reserve Medals; three Selected Marine Corps Reserve Medals; two Sea Service Deployment Ribbons; Iraq Campaign Medal; Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal; Global War on Terrorism Service Medal; two National Defense Service Medals and more than a dozen other awards.

Johnson told his father he had the best job in the Marine Corps, The Associated Press reported.

Kevin Johnson of Colchester, Vt., recalled his son said, “I get to fly everywhere.” His son was based at Stewart air base traveling across the Atlantic and Pacific and touring many countries.

Johnson, a fine arts major at Johnson State College in Vermont , surprised his family with portraits he painted based on old pictures of his grandfather and father-in-law when they graduated from Navy boot camp.

The elder Johnson said his son, who was taking on more administrative work, was looking to retire next year. Plans included possibly returning to school for a master’s degree and then moving to Montana, home to his wife, Anna. He said his son loved the outdoors and was considering a job as a park ranger or a fish and game warden.

“He was thinking of looking into that, but he said, ‘You know, I’ve got some time,’ Johnson said. “We’ll miss him.”

Staff Sgt. Joshua M. Snowden, 31. He was a fixed wing aircraft crew master from Dallas who joined the Marine Corps in 2004. The active reserve Marine deployed in the Operation Enduring Freedom transition, June-August 2014; Special Purpose MAGTF, October 2014 to January 2015.

He earned the Navy and Marine Corps achievement medal; Air Medal-Strike/Flight; Inherent Resolve Campaign Medal; Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal; Sea Service Deployment Ribbon; two Armed Forces Reserve Medals; Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal; three Selected Marine Corps Reserve Medals; Global War on Terrorism Service Medal; National Defense Service Medal and others.

Snowden, a flight engineer on the transport plane, grew up in the Dallas area and graduated from Highland Park High School in 2004, having already signed up for the Marines, The Associated Press reported, citing the Dallas Morning News.

Sara Quarterman, Snowden’s sister, wrote Tuesday on Facebook that her brother “loved God, his family and friends, and his country. And he died serving his country and God.”

Snowden often displayed his Texas roots and love of the Dallas Cowboys on Facebook, even while stationed at Stewart air base.

“I can tell you that Josh loved his family and friends, God, his country, and country-western music and dancing,” Snowden’s aunt, Linda Hughes, told the Times Herald-Record of Middletown, N.Y. “He was one of the warmest, kindest, more patriotic people I’ve ever known.”

Sgt. Julian M. Kevianne, 31. He was a fixed wing aircraft crew master from Dallas who joined the Marine Corps in 2009. He deployed in Operation Enduring Freedom from November 2012 to March 2013.

The active reserve Marine earned two Selected Marine Corps Reserve Medals, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon; Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal; Armed Forces Reserve Medal; Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and a National Defense Service Medal.

John Allen, his cousin, told The Detroit News that Kevianne talked about joining the military when he was younger. Allen said Kevianne could be quiet with people he didn’t know, “but once he was comfortable with you, he was a loud blast of fun.”

Kevianne, a flight engineer, was based at Stewart air base and lived with his wife, Sherry Jennings-Kevianne, in New Windsor, N.Y.

Sgt. Owen J. Lennon, 26. The fixed wing aircraft crew master from Rockland County, N.Y., joined the Marine Corps in 2010. He deployed in Operation Enduring Freedom from November 2012 to March 2013.

The active reserve Marine earned two Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals, Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal; Selected Marine Corps Reserve Medal; Sea Service Deployment Ribbon; Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal; Global War on Terrorism Service Medal; Armed Forces Reserve Medal; and a National Defense Service Medal.

He grew up in Pomona, N.Y., playing football and tennis for Ramapo High School in Rockland County before graduating in 2008, The Associated Press reported.

Lennon’s sister, Kelly Lennon, posted a remembrance on Facebook, saying, “You may have been the youngest, but we always looked up to you. Our hero, Owen Lennon. (broken heart) sending love to the other USMC families that lost loved ones last night.”

Lennon was stationed at Stewart air base.

Cpl. Daniel Baldassare, 20. The fixed wing aircraft crew master from Monmouth, N.J., joined the Marine Corps in 2015 and had yet to deploy. The active duty Marine had earned a Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and a National Defense Service Medal.

Baldassare had wanted to be a Marine since he was in middle school, his friend Dan McGowan told WPIX-TV, according to The Associated Press.

“He actually would bring military gloves to football practice and play with them,” said McGowan, who drove his friend to practice in high school. “He was a patriot and all he wanted to do was serve our country. Everyone had a lot of respect for Dan.”

“We’re so sorry and our heart is just breaking, just breaking for them,” neighbor Rosalind Innucci said of Baldassare’s parents and sister.

Baldassare was stationed at Stewart air base.

Cpl. Collin J. Schaaff. He was an aircraft ordnance technician from Pierce, Wash. He joined the Marine Corps in 2013 and had yet to deploy. The active-duty Marine had earned a Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal; Global War on Terrorism Service Medal; and National Defense Service Medal.

He has a 1-year-old daughter, and his wife, Sarah Beth, is expecting another daughter in November.

2nd Raider Battalion, Special Operations Command

Staff Sgt. Robert H. Cox. The critical skills operator from Ventura, Calif., joined the Marine Corps in 2007 and deployed March-June 2009 in Operation Iraqi Freedom and again from July 2009 to January 2010; Operation Enduring Freedom, May-December 2011 and Operation Inherent Resolve, January-July 2016.

The active duty Marine earned two Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals; Combat Action Ribbon; Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal; Inherent Resolve Campaign Medal; three Sea Service Deployment Ribbons; two Afghanistan Campaign Medals; two Armed Forces Reserve Medals; Iraq Campaign Medal; Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and other awards.

Staff Sgt. William J. Kundrat, 33. The critical skills operator from Frederick, Md., joined the Marine Corps in 2002 and deployed March-June 2003 in Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom; Operation Iraqi Freedom from September 2005 to April 2006; to Senegal, April-May 2010 and Operation Inherent Resolve, December 2015 to June 2016.

The active-duty Marine earned the Defense Meritorious Service Medal; Combat Action Ribbon; four Sea Service Deployment Ribbons; four Marine Corps Good Conduct Medals; three Afghanistan Campaign Medals; five Iraq Campaign Medals; Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal; Global War on Terrorism Service Medal; and numerous other awards.

Kundrat lived in Holly Ridge, N.C., and had two children with his wife, Anna, according to The Frederick News-Post. The newspaper interviewed his mother, Lynda.

“Every breath of air you take, all the things you’re able to do, you can do those things because of people like my son,” his mother said. “I’ll never forget that.”

Kundrat graduated in 2002 from Gov. Thomas Johnson High School in Frederick, where he played football and lacrosse. He also was an Eagle Scout. In 2004, Kundrat married classmate Ashley Cregger, according to the paper.

Kundrat served in Iraq, his mother said, later joining the Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command 2nd Marine Raider battalion stationed at Camp Lejeune. “He was a great Marine,” she said.

Sgt. Chad E. Jenson. The critical skills operator from Los Angeles joined the Marine Corps in 2010 and had not deployed. The active-duty Marine earned the Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal; Global War on Terrorism Service Medal; National Defense Service Medal; Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation and other awards.

Sgt. Talon R. Leach. The critical skills operator from Callaway, Mo., joined the Marine Corps in 2010 and deployed in Operation Inherent Resolve, December 2015 to July 2016.

The active-duty Marine earned the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal; Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal; Sea Service Deployment Ribbon; two Marine Corps Good Conduct Medals; Global War on Terrorism Service Medal; National Defense Service Medal; Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation and other awards.

Sgt. Joseph J. Murray, 26. The critical skills operator from Duval, Fla., joined the Marine Corps in 2009 and deployed in Operation Enduring Freedom, from September 2010 to March 2011 and January-July 2012.

The active-duty Marine earned three Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals; Combat Action Ribbon; two Marine Corps Good Conduct Medals; two Sea Service Deployment Ribbons; two Afghanistan Campaign Medals; Global War on Terrorism Service Medal; National Defense Service Medal and other awards.

His family said he was a ukulele player, former surfer kid and deeply religious family man who excelled in the Marine Corps, according to The Associated Press.

Murray’s father, Terry, told reporters Wednesday the special operations Marine had been a surfer at Sandalwood High School in Jacksonville, Fla., who surprised his military veteran parents by joining the Marines.

He said his son was at the center of family life and his Marine units, sharing his Christian faith by serving others and his country. Terry Murray said one Marine told him Joseph hummed praise songs constantly on patrol.

“When Joseph stopped singing praises, they took their safeties off their weapons, because they immediately thought something was up,” he said.

Murray leaves a wife, Gayle, and four children — a 5-year-old, a 3-year-old, and twin 1-year-olds.

“He loved to play his guitar and ukulele for us,” she said in a statement. “What he wanted most in the world besides our happiness was to destroy evil on this earth.”

Murray was stationed at Camp Lejeune.

Sgt. Dietrich A. Schmieman. The critical skills operator from Benton, Wash., joined the Marine Corps in 2010 and deployed in Operation Enduring Freedom from September 2010 to March 2011 and January-July 2012.

The active-duty Marine earned two Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals; two Marine Corps Good Conduct Medals; three Sea Service Deployment Ribbons; Global War on Terrorism Service Medal; National Defense Service Medal; Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation and other awards.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Ryan M. Lohrey, 30. The special amphibious reconnaissance corpsman from Middletown, Ind., joined the Navy in 2007 and deployed in Operation Enduring Freedom from October 2010 to May 2011, and Operation Inherent Resolve, July 2016 to January 2017.

The active-duty sailor earned a Purple Heart; two Combat Action Ribbons; three Good Conduct Medals; two Sea Service Deployment Ribbons; Afghanistan Campaign Medal; Inherent Resolve Campaign Medal; NATO Medal; Global War on Terrorism Service Medal; National Defense Service Medal and other awards.

“Ryan served our country with honor and we are grateful for his selfless service,” U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., said on his web page about the Middletown, Ind., native. “He will be missed, and I send my condolences and prayers to his family and friends.”

Lohrey graduated from high school in 2005. He was a football star who was determined to become an elite Navy SEAL.

Lohrey’s former high school teacher and football coach, Brent Kinsey, remembered him as a standout.

“One of those kids that you just don’t kind of forget,” Kinsey told a CNN affiliate. “He made a great impact on our school community.”

Lohrey’s high school yearbook picture came with the quote, “Live life the fullest you can. You never know when it could end.”

Kinsey said Lohrey did just that. “He did live life every day to the fullest. It’s ironic,” he said. “I hope we all do that.”

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cahn.dianna@stripes.com
 

Cpl. Daniel L. Baldassare

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