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Corps Identifies 3 Marines Killed in Tragic Osprey Crash Off Australia

1st Lt. Benjamin Cross, 26, Cpl. Nathaniel Ordway, 21, and Pfc. Ruben Velasco, 19, died in the Aug. 5, 2017, Osprey crash off Australia. (Photos courtesy VMI, Facebook and gofundme.com)
1st Lt. Benjamin Cross, 26, Cpl. Nathaniel Ordway, 21, and Pfc. Ruben Velasco, 19, died in the Aug. 5, 2017, Osprey crash off Australia. (Photos courtesy VMI, Facebook and gofundme.com)

Two Marine aviators and an infantryman were killed when an MV-22 Osprey went down Aug. 5 into the waters off the coast of Queensland, Australia, officials announced Monday evening.

As dive teams continue to recover debris from the site of the crash, the service has identified the three Marines lost in the tragedy.

They are 1st Lt. Benjamin Cross, 26, of Oxford, Maine; Cpl. Nathaniel Ordway, 21, of Sedgwick, Kansas; and Pfc. Ruben Velasco, 19, of Los Angeles. Cross and Ordway were both assigned to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 265 out of Futenma, Japan; Velasco was a member of 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, out of Camp Pendleton, California.

Both units were assigned to the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, which is forward deployed to the Pacific and was near Australia for the multinational training exercise Talisman Saber.

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"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," Col. Tye R. Wallace, commanding officer of 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, 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," he said. "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 Osprey, which belonged to VMM-265, crashed after launching from the amphibious assault ship Bonhomme Richard in a routine operation, officials have said. The aircraft went down roughly 18 miles off the coast of the Shoalwater Bay Training Area in Queensland. Of the 26 troops aboard the aircraft, 23 were located alive, and three were missing following the crash.

The Marine Corps launched "extensive search and rescue efforts" to locate the missing Marines, officials said, but transitioned to recovery efforts 11 hours later, acknowledging the troops did not survive.

Earlier Monday, officials said they had located the wreckage of the Osprey with the aid of the Australian hydrographic survey ship Melville and were dispatching dive teams to assess and recover the wreckage.

Officials with III MEF did not respond to questions about whether remains of the fallen Marines had been recovered.

While Japanese officials called for the Marine Corps to ground its fleet of Ospreys, citing safety concerns, the service has yet to announce such a step.

"We are looking at our options in terms of reviewing safety across the Marine Corps fleet at the moment ... pending an across-the-board safety review," a US defense official told Agence France-Presse earlier today.

An investigation has been launched into the cause of the tragic crash.

-- Hope Hodge Seck can be reached at hope.seck@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @HopeSeck.

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