Marine released from hospital after deadly midair collision; search continues for five others
By JAMES BOLINGER AND HANA KUSUMOTO | STARS AND STRIPES Published: December 10, 2018
MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan — The search continued Monday for five Marines who went missing last week after their KC-130 Hercules collided midair with an F/A-18 Hornet off the coast of southern Japan.
Seven Marines initially went missing after the collision just before 2 a.m. Thursday during “regularly scheduled training” that included aerial refueling south of Muroto Cape on Shikoku Island, U.S. and Japanese officials said.
The two Marines aboard the Hornet were recovered the day of the accident. The first, who was picked up that morning by a Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force helicopter, has been released from the hospital, III Marine Expeditionary Force spokesman 2nd Lt. Ryan Bruce told Stars and Stripes in an email Monday.
The second, Capt. Jahmar Resilard, 28, was pronounced dead after being found just after noon by the JMSDF ship JS Setoyuki.
The size of the team looking for the five Marines from MCAS Iwakuni’s Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 152 has shrunk since Sunday, according to a spokesman from the Japanese Defense Ministry’s Joint Staff.
A pair of Japan Air-Self Defense Force aircraft — a UH-60 Black Hawk and an E-767 AWACS — were searching for the missing crew Monday, a Defense Ministry statement said.
U.S. aircraft participating in the search include Air Force CV-22 Osprey, MC-130J, C-130J Super Hercules, RC-135 reconnaissance aircraft, KC-135 Stratotanker, RQ-4 Global Hawk, and Navy P-8 Poseidon, Bruce said. An Australian P-8 was also aiding the effort.
Search-and-rescue personnel from the 320th Special Tactics Squadron at Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, were also on scene Monday searching for survivors, said 1st Lt. Renee Douglas, a spokeswoman for the Air Force’s 353rd Special Operations Group.
How much longer the effort would continue was unknown, the Defense Ministry spokesman said.
Going into the weekend, the multinational, multiservice effort involved JASDF aircraft, Japan Coast Guard, and JMSDF and U.S. Navy ships.
III MEF has declared the incident a “Class A” mishap, Japan’s Kyodo news agency reported Monday. These involve total property damage of “$2 million or more and/or aircraft destroyed” and “fatality or permanent disability.”
Marine officials are still investigating the cause of the collision.
MCAS Iwakuni is home to Marine Air Craft Group 12 and the Navy’s Carrier Air Wing 5. It is one of the Pacific’s largest air stations.