The 15 Marines and a Navy sailor killed in a military plane crash Monday in Mississippi came from all over the country. Seven of the Marines and the sailor were from an elite Marine Raider battalion at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. Nine were based out of Stewart Air National Guard Base in Newburgh, New York, home of a Marine Aerial Refueling and Transport Squadron.
During a noon news conference at Stone Bay, Marine Special Operations Deputy Commander Col. Steven Grass said the entire MarSOC community mourns the loss of the men.
The colonel added that they are grateful for the outpouring of support from the local community and “asks for continued prayers and support in this difficult time.”
The victims are:
Navy Corpsman Ryan Lohrey. He was a high school football standout in Indiana who had gotten married weeks before the crash. His father, Michael Lohrey, told The Herald Bulletin (ITALICS) newspaper that his son enlisted in the Navy after high school and survived two tours overseas in Iraq and Afghanistan, making his death on the way to training all the more tragic.
“I never would have expected this to happen,” he said.
Lohrey said his son, who had two children of his own, wanted to use his skills as a medic to eventually pursue a career in nursing. The younger Lohrey was married in early June.
Marine Staff Sgt. William Joseph Kundrat, 33, grew up in Frederick, Maryland, where his parents, Joseph and Lynda, still live. His mother confirmed her son’s death in a telephone interview Wednesday with The Frederick News-Post (ITALICS). “Every breath of air you take, all the things you’re able to do, you can do those things because of people like my son,” she told the newspaper. “I’ll never forget that.”
Gunnery Sgt. Brendan Johnson, 46, told his father he had the best job in the Marine Corps. Kevin Johnson of Colchester, Vermont, recalled his son saying, “I get to fly everywhere.” His son was based at Stewart, traveling back and forth across the Atlantic and Pacific and touring many countries. Brendan Johnson joined the Marines after graduating from Johnson State College in Vermont.
Owen Lennon, 26, grew up in Pomona, New York, playing football and tennis for Ramapo High School in Rockland County before graduating in 2008. A man answering the phone at the family’s home in Pomona confirmed the death to The Journal News (ITALICS), but said the family was grieving and declined to comment.
Sgt. Julian Kevianne, 31, joined the Marines in 2009 because he wanted to protect and defend the country, his brother told the Detroit Free Press (ITALICS). “The Marines knocked on my mother’s door at 2 this morning,” Carlo Kevianne said late Tuesday. “They said his plane went down, and they weren’t able to find him.”
Dan Baldassare, 20, had wanted to be a Marine since he was in middle school, his friend, Dan McGowan, told WPIX-TV. “He actually would bring military gloves to football practice and play with them,” said McGowan, who drove his friend to practice in high school. “He was a patriot and all he wanted to do was serve our country. Everyone had a lot of respect for Dan.”
Others killed in the plane crash were members of Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 452, from Newburgh New York: Major Caine Goyette, Capt. Sean Elliot, GySgt. Mark Hopkins, Sgt. Joshua Snowden, Sgt. Daniel Baldassare, Cpl. Collin Schaaff, Staff Sgt. Robert Cox, Sgt. Chad Jenson, Sgt. Talon Leah, Sgt. Joseph Murray, and Sgt. Dietrich Schmieman.
The plane spiraled into a soybean field about 5 p.m. Monday, spreading debris for miles and resulting in fiery wreckage that burned for hours. The crash is still under investigation.