Tillis: Crashed military plane from NC air station

A military refueling aircraft that crashed Monday afternoon in Mississippi was from North Carolina, according to U.S. Senator Thom Tillis. 

The KC-130 was from the Marine Corps Air Station in Cherry Point, Tillis said in a statement Tuesday morning. The Senator said he and his wife are extending their deepest condolences to the families of the Marines who were killed, as well as to the Cherry Point station and the community of Havelock, North Carolina. 

Tillis said the crash is a reminder of the dangers that military personnel face even on training missions.

"Susan and I send our deepest condolences to the families of the Marines who lost their lives in service to our nation. Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point and the Havelock community are in our thoughts and prayers. This is a tragic reminder of the dangers our servicemembers are confronted with on a daily basis, including the training missions that are needed to help keep our nation safe at home and abroad."

 

The North Carolina senator is the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Personnel.

The refueling aircraft crashed Monday afternoon in a soybean field in rural Mississippi, killing at least 16 people aboard.

No other details were immediately available on the crew members and where they lived.

Marine Corps spokeswoman Lt. Kristine Rascicot confirmed that the plane that crashes was a USMC KC-130, but said she was not able to release any more details.

Capt. Sarah Burns said in a statement that a Marine C-130 "experienced a mishap" Monday evening, echoing almost the exact language of the tweet.

A KC-130 aircraft is an extended-range tanker version of the Lockheed C-130 Hercules that has been modified for aerial refueling.The C-130 Hercules is a four-engine turboprop aircraft used primarily for military transportation. It's known as a workhorse used in refueling, humanitarian missions, firefighting, search and rescue, and combat missions, according to the Lockheed Martin website.

It wasn't clear Monday evening where the flight originated or where it was headed.

Leflore County deputy coroner Will Gnemi confirmed that his office was called to the accident scene. He said investigators were looking for other victims at the rural crash site, searching in a soybean field with tall vegetation.

Greenwood Fire Chief Marcus Banks told the Greenwood Commonwealth's Tim Kalich that the debris field was about five miles in radius.

Banks told the Commonwealth that the call came in around 4 p.m. An aircraft crash truck rushed to the scene, and 4,000 gallons of foam were used in an effort to put out the fire, he said.

Firefighters were driven away by several "high-intensity explosions," Banks told the Commonwealth, adding that they thought it was possibly some ammunition igniting.

The Commonwealth reported that the flight last contacted air traffic controllers at an elevation of about 20,000 feet.

"Please join Deborah and me in praying for those hurting after this tragedy," Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant said in a statement on Facebook. "Our men and women in uniform risk themselves every day to secure our freedom."

National Transportation Safety Board spokesman Peter Knudson said the NTSB was not involved in the investigation because the plane was a military aircraft. 

Daniel Connolly of The Memphis Commercial Appeal contributed to this report.

© 2017 Associated Press


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