Marine commander relieved of duty after string of crashes

By TARA COPP | STARS AND STRIPES Published: December 29, 2016

Note: This article has been corrected.

WASHINGTON — The commander of a Marine aircraft squadron that has been plagued with crashes was relieved of command Wednesday, the Marine Corps said. 

Lt. Col. Wade Workman, commander of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 232, was relieved "due to a loss of trust and confidence in his ability to continue to serve in that position," the Marine Corps said in a statement. The squadron is based at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in California. 

During the last year, Squadron 232 has lost at least two F/A-18C Hornets in training crashes. On July 28, Marine Maj. Richard Norton was killed during a nighttime air-to-ground training flight near Marine Air Ground Combat Center at Twentynine Palms in California.  

Days later, on Aug. 2, an F/A-18C Hornet crashed from the same squadron that had been sent to Naval Air Station Fallon in Nevada for training flights. The pilot safely ejected with minor injuries in that crash. 

Across the Marine Corps, additional F/A-18C Hornet crashes this year have caused the deaths of two more pilots and the loss of aircraft. 

On June 2, Marine Capt. Jeff Kuss was killed when his F/A-18C Hornet crashed during a training flight with the Blue Angels. 

On Nov. 9, two F/A-18C Hornets assigned to Marine Corps Air Station Miramar collided over San Diego, resulting in the loss of an aircraft. Both pilots survived the crash. 

On Dec. 7, Marine Capt. Jake Frederick was killed when his F/A-18C Hornet crashed during a training flight off the coast of Japan.

In the November collision, the aircraft were part of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 314, which, along with Squadron 232, is attached to 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing. In early December, the commanding general of 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, Maj. Gen. Mark Wise, relieved Lt. Col. Michael Hernandez, the Marine Aircraft Group's top aviation logistics officer in charge of ensuring the aircraft were ready to fly.

Hernandez, commanding officer of Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 11, was also relieved "due to a loss of trust and confidence in his ability to continue to lead," the Marines said in a Dec. 2 statement. 

The earlier crashes led the service to conduct a one day stand-down of all nondeployed aircraft in August to review safety procedures. 

In the statement about Workman, the Marines said the decision was made "based on issues concerning command climate within the squadron."


Correction: Lt. Col. Michael Hernandez was the Marine Aircraft Group's top aviation logistics officer before he was relieved in December. His job was incorrectly identified in a Stars and Stripes in an earlier version of this story posted Dec. 29.

Lt. Col. Wade Workman


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