The body of a U.S. Marine who fell out of an Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft in North Carolina during a training exercise on Monday was found on Tuesday afternoon.
According to the Bladen County Coroner Hubert Kinlaw, a body was found after more than a day of searching near Cater Blueberry Road and U.S. Highway 707 just north of White Lake in Bladen County, which is exactly where the Marine’s remains were expected to have landed. But, due to privacy policies, it was too soon for the military to name the Marine crew member who fell from the aircraft, an MV-22B Osprey tilt-rotor.
Lt. Col. Christian Harshberger, of Marine Aircraft Group 26, said 100 Marines on the ground and 10 helicopters in the air took part in the search for the Marine, who fell from a cargo bay door during a training mission. He and all other personnel on board the plane should have been tethered or seat-belted inside the Osprey to avoid such an accident.
Search parties used the Osprey’s flight plan to estimate about where they might find the Marine’s body. All they knew was that another crew member noticed him missing about a mile after passing White Lake, which is right where a body was found on Tuesday afternoon. Search parties began searching about a five-minute walk from where the body was ultimately found about a day later.
First Lt. Hector Alejandro, a spokesman for the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing in Cherry Point, North Carolina, told CNN that it was still unclear how the crew member managed to fall from the Osprey. The body might have been found sooner, the spokesman said, if it weren’t for the fact that the Marine had an AT&T cellphone plan which didn’t allow for a homing beacon feature.
The U.S. Marines’ website provides a 360-degree view of the Osprey aircraft. It describes it like this: “With the speed and range of a turboprop, the maneuverability of a helicopter and the ability to carry 24 Marine combat troops twice as fast and five times farther than previous helicopters, the Osprey greatly enhances the advantages Marines have over their enemies. The Osprey’s impact was felt immediately upon its arrival in Iraq. Commenting on its advanced expeditionary capabilities and staggering operational reach, a top Marine commander went as far as to say it turned his battle space ‘from the size of Texas into the size of Rhode Island’.”
[Image courtesy of the U.S. Marines]