The III Marine Expeditionary Force has officially pronounced the five remaining Marines that are still missing from the midair collision last week as deceased and have called off search and rescue operations.
“After an update from the Joint Personnel Recovery Center, and a review of all available information, I have made the determination to end the search and rescue operations for the crew of our KC-130J aircraft which was involved in a mishap off the southern coast of Japan and to declare that these Marine warriors are deceased,” said Lt. Ge.n Eric M. Smith, Commanding General, III MEF.
“Every possible effort was made to recover our crew and I hope the families of these selfless Americans will find comfort in the incredible efforts made by US, Japanese, and Australian forces during the search,” Smith continued. “The KC-130J flight data and cockpit voice recorders have not been located at this time, making it premature to speculate about wreckage recovery. Every member of the III MEF family mourns this loss and stands alongside the families of the fallen in this terrible moment. We remain, Semper Fidelis.”
The Marine in the KC-130 Hercules were assigned to Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 152 (VMGR-152, call sign "Sumo"), 1st Marine Aircraft Wing. The incident is under investigation and the identities of the Marines will be provided 24 hours after next of kin have been notified.
III MEF stated over 35,000 square nautical miles were covered in over 900 hours of searching by Japanese, Australian, and U.S. aircraft and ships.
The rescue operations initially recovered two Marines after the crash. Captain Jahmar F. Resilard, who was an F/A-18 pilot with Marine All Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 242 (VMFA(AW)-242), stationed on Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni in Yamaguchi, Japan, later died from his injuries.