June 10 (UPI) -- A salvage operation after a midair collision of military planes off Japan's coast ended with the recovery of human remains, the U.S. Marines said on Monday.
The two-week search concluded on Friday, yielding the cockpit voice recorder and digital flight recorder of the KC-130J tanker plane involved in the Dec. 6, 2018, nighttime collision with an F/A-18 Hornet fighter plane.
Five crewmembers of the tanker and the pilot of the fighter were killed in the collision, about 200 miles south of Muroto Cape on Shikoku Island, off Japan's southern coast. Only the Hornet's weapons officer survived.
The Marines identified those aboard the tanker as Lt. Col. Kevin R. Herrmann, 38, of New Bern, N.C.; Maj. James M. Brophy, 36, of Staatsburg, N.Y.; Staff Sgt. Maximo A. Flores, 27, of Surprise, Ariz.; Cpl. Daniel E. Baker, 21, of Tremont, Ill.; Cpl. William C. Ross, 21, of Hendersonville, Tenn. All were members of Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 152. Capt. Jahmar F. Resilard, 28, of Miramar, Fla., the pilot of the fighter plane, was rescued but later died of his injuries.
A search spanning 3,500 square nautical miles ended after five days. The cause of the collision has not been established.
"Human remains were recovered during the salvage operation," a statement on Monday from III Marine Expeditionary Force said. "At this time, the number and identity of those recovered is not known. The remains will be transferred to Dover Air Force Base, Del., where formal identification will be made by competent medical authorities."
The recording devices were sent to Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, Md., for investigation.