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Five Marines declared dead after search ends off Japan's coast

By Allen Cone
Two F/A-18D Hornets approach a Lockheed KC-130J Hercules during an aerial refueling exercise on October 13, 2016. On Thursday, an F/A-18D Hornet and KC-130J collided off the coast of Japan. Photo by <a class="tpstyle" href="https://www.navy.mil/view_image.asp?id=227801">Trevor Statz/U.S. Navy</a>
Two F/A-18D Hornets approach a Lockheed KC-130J Hercules during an aerial refueling exercise on October 13, 2016. On Thursday, an F/A-18D Hornet and KC-130J collided off the coast of Japan. Photo by Trevor Statz/U.S. Navy

Dec. 11 (UPI) -- Five Marines have been declared dead in a collision of two aircraft after an extensive search off Japan's southern coast ended, the military branch said Tuesday.

On Thursday, a KC-130J Hercules collided midair with an F/A-18 Hornet. Seven Marines were involved in the training accident just before 2 a.m., about 200 miles south of Muroto Cape on Shikoku Island after taking off from Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni. Two Marines on the fighter jet were rescued, but Capt. Jahmar F. Resilard, 28, of Miramar, Fla., died of his injuries.

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"After an update from the Joint Personnel Recovery Center, and a review of all available information, I have made the determination to end the search and rescue operations for the crew of our KC-130J aircraft which was involved in a mishap off the southern coast of Japan and to declare that these Marine warriors are deceased," Lt. Gen. Eric Smith, the III Marine Expeditionary Force's commanding general, said in a statement posted on Facebook.

"Every possible effort was made to recover our crew and I hope the families of these selfless Americans will find comfort in the incredible efforts made by U.S., Japanese and Australian forces during the search," he added.

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Smith said the KC-130's flight data and cockpit voice recorders had not been located, "making it premature to speculate about wreckage recovery."

It is not confirmed that aerial refueling was ongoing when the mishap occurred.

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