The US military has called off its search for a missing Marine, who is now presumed dead. The aircrew member would be the first American casualty in the bombing campaign against the Islamic State.
The missing Marine, Cpl. Jordan L. Spears of Memphis, Indiana, was identified by the Corps on Friday afternoon. The 21-year-old was aboard an MV-22 Osprey participating in flight operations in support of the mission against the Islamic State (formerly ISIS) on Wednesday. The aircraft lost power on takeoff from the USS Makin Island in the North Arabian Gulf, and looked as if it might crash, the Navy reported. Spears and another enlisted aircrew member bailed into the sea before the pilot was able to regain control and safely land aboard the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship.
“There were four personnel aboard the aircraft when it took off, two pilots and two enlisted aircrew. The lost Marine was one of the two enlisted aircrew who exited the aircraft when it appeared the Osprey might crash into the ocean,” the Navy said in a statement.
US Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard personnel began an extensive search-and-rescue operation immediately, recovering one of the two crew members. The process used “all available assets, which continued throughout the night and the next day,” the statement continued.
The search ended Friday at 3:00 p.m. GMT, “after efforts to locate him were unsuccessful,” the military said. “The Marine is presumed lost at sea.”
Spears’ name was withheld for 24 hours until after family-member notification, in accordance with Defense Department policy.
The second Marine was recovered relatively quickly. He is in stable condition on board the ship, and the Navy is investigating the cause of the mishap.
The MV-22 Osprey acquired a reputation of being unreliable and difficult to fly, and had a “troubled development history that included numerous deadly crashes,” the Washington Post’s Checkpoint blog reported.
Two years ago, residents in Okinawa, Japan protested a deployment of Ospreys to the US Futemma military base because there were still bugs to be worked out in the aircraft’s hybrid helicopter-airplane design, human rights activist Ryan Dawson told RT at the time.
“For them to bringing these MV-22s is very dangerous. It could fall on someone’s head, and that is not an exaggeration,” Dawson said. “They don’t work, they are very expensive and very dangerous.”
The USS Makin Island is on a scheduled deployment to the US 5th Fleet area of responsibility in the Middle East under US Central Command. Makin Island amphibious ready group (ARG) embarked with elements of the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit Camp Pendleton, California to support operations in Iraq and Syria, and throughout the region. The three-ship, 4,000-troop ARG left its San Diego home on July 25. The group can be used for a wide range of crisis-response capabilities, including disaster relief and combat operations, and is often referred to as a “Swiss Army Knife” for its flexibility, Stars and Stripes reported.
Spears was assigned to Marine Tiltrotor Squadron 163, Marine Aircraft Group 16, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California, the Marine Corps statement said.