Maine native among 3 Marines missing after Osprey crash; search called off

SYDNEY (AP) — One of the three Marines believed to have died in an MV-22 Osprey crash off the coast of Australia was a Maine native.

MGN Online

Family members tell the Portland Press Herald that 1st Lt. Benjamin Robert Cross grew up in Bethel, Maine, and attended the Virginia Military Institute before joining the Marines.

A Marine statement indicates the Osprey launched from the USS Bonhomme Richard and was conducting regularly scheduled operations when it crashed Saturday. Twenty-three of 26 personnel aboard the aircraft were rescued.

U.S. military officials called off the search and rescue operation on Sunday.

In Maine, Ryan Cross said his 26-year-old brother loved to fly and “was proud of being a Marine and of the aircraft he flew.” Cross’ parents are Robert and Valerie Cross.

The Osprey is a tilt-rotor aircraft that takes off and lands like a helicopter, but flies like an airplane. They have been involved in a series of high-profile crashes in recent years.

The aircraft was in Australia for a joint military training exercise held by the U.S. and Australia last month in Shoalwater Bay. The Talisman Sabre exercise, a biennial event between the two nations, involved more than 30,000 troops and 200 aircraft.

Australian Defense Minister Marise Payne said Saturday’s incident occurred off the coast of Shoalwater Bay in Queensland state.

“I can confirm no Australian Defence Force personnel were on board the aircraft,” Payne said in a statement. “The United States are leading the search and recovery effort.”

Payne said she had spoken with U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis “to offer Australia’s support in any way that can be of assistance.”

The White House said that President Donald Trump was briefed on the matter by his chief of staff, John Kelly.

In 2015, a U.S. Osprey crashed during a training exercise in Hawaii, killing two Marines. Last December, a U.S. military Osprey crash-landed off Japan’s southern island of Okinawa. Its five crew members were rescued safely. And in January, three U.S. soldiers were wounded in the “hard landing” of an Osprey in Yemen.