Pentagon identifies Marines killed in chopper crash off Australia

By Ed Adamczyk  |  Updated Aug. 8, 2017 at 11:45 AM
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Aug. 8 (UPI) -- The U.S. Marine Corps has identified three soldiers who were killed over the weekend after their helicopter went down off the east Australian coast.

The Marines were riding in an Osprey MV-22 helicopter when it crashed during military exercises at the Shoalwater Bay Training Area in Queensland Saturday.

The three missing Marines were declared dead Monday by the Department of Defense.

Twenty-three others aboard the chopper were rescued, and the aircraft was found Monday by the Australian Navy. They were all members of the USMC's 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit.

The dead soldiers were identified as 1st Lt. Benjamin R. Cross, 26, of Oxford, Maine; Cpl. Nathaniel F. Ordway, 21, of Sedgwick, Kan., and Pfc. Ruben P. Velasco, 19, of Los Angeles. Their bodies have not been recovered, spokeswoman Lt. Christina Metzler said.

"The loss of every Marine is felt across our entire Marine Corps family. To the families of the brave Marines we lost -- there is no way for us to understand what you are going through," USMC Col. Tye R. Wallace said in a statement. "What we do know is that your Marines left a lasting impression on the 31st MEU, the Marine Corps, and the world.

"They will live on forever in our thoughts and our hearts. You will always be a part of the Marine Corps family, and you will remain in our prayers."

The helicopter took off from the USS Bonhomme Richard, a Navy amphibious assault ship before it fell into the water. The military training exercises involved more than 30,000 U.S. and Australian personnel.

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