Australian Navy locates missing U.S. military aircraft; 3 Marines still missing

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The Australian Navy has located a missing US military aircraft that crashed off Australia’s east coast on Saturday, Defense Minister Marise Payne said in a statement Monday.

Three US Marines have been missing since what the Marine Corps calls a “mishap” with an MV-22 aircraft.

Twenty-three of the 26 personnel on board the aircraft were rescued, the Corps said.

US military aircraft and boats scoured ocean waters off Australia searching without success for the three missing Marines. A sea search off Australia’s east coast for the missing was called off early Sunday, the military said.

Small boats and aircraft from the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit and Bonhomme Richard Expeditionary Strike Group conducted the search, the Marine Corps said.

Family in Maine grieves

The families of the missing Marines have been notified, the military said.

One of the three Marines is Ben Cross of Bethel, Maine. Family members told CNN affiliate WGME that their loss is “unbearable.”

“We’re gonna miss FaceTime with him whenever he got a chance and certainly any leave that he would have gotten,” said Cross’ father, Robert Cross.

Valerie Cross, the Marine’s mother, said, “We have so many awesome memories, but to know that we will never make any more with him is unbearable.”

Cross’ parents and brother passed along their condolences to the families of the other Marines lost at sea.

Training exercises

The US military has been in the area for training exercises with the Australian military. The MV-22 is a vertical-launch aircraft, also known as an Osprey.

“The aircraft involved in the mishap had launched from the USS Bonhomme Richard (a Navy amphibious assault ship) and was conducting regularly scheduled operations when the aircraft entered the water,” the Marine Corps said in a statement.

Crew on board the Bonhomme Richard were performing water training exercises Saturday, according to the ship’s Facebook page. The exercises were a followup to joint military training between US and Australian forces that wrapped up last week.

Australian authorities said no Australian personnel were on board.

The recent joint military exercise took place largely in Shoalwater Bay and involved more than 30,000 US and Australian personnel, according to Australian Defense Department.

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