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Marine Pilot Killed in Crash in England is Identified

Capt. Taj T. Sareen, Marine Fighter Attack Squadron F/A-18 pilot, conducts pre-flight checks to ordnance loaded on the aircraft before flight operations. (VANESSA JIMENEZ/U.S. MARINE CORPS)
Capt. Taj T. Sareen, Marine Fighter Attack Squadron F/A-18 pilot, conducts pre-flight checks to ordnance loaded on the aircraft before flight operations. (VANESSA JIMENEZ/U.S. MARINE CORPS)

The Marine pilot killed when his F/A-18 fighter jet crashed near RAF Lakenheath in England on Wednesday was identified by hometown news outlets as Maj. Taj Sareen of Hillsborough, Calif.

Marine officials had not released the name by Thursday morning, California time. But local broadcasters NBC Bay Area and FOX KTVU reported that Sareen's sister confirmed his death. Another local station, ABC 7 in San Francisco, reported that several of its employees knew Sareen, either from school or socially.

Sareen became a Marine Corps fighter pilot in 2005, according to his LinkedIn page, and was educated at the University of San Francisco and University of Auburn.

At the time of the crash he was assigned to Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 232, based at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego.

Sareen's aircraft went down soon after takeoff from RAF Lakenheath about 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, crashing in a farm field in the nearby town of Redmere. One witness described a loud noise followed by a large fireball.

The pilot ejected from the aircraft, said Gunnery Sgt. Donald Bohanner, a spokesman for Marine Corps Air Station Miramar.

British and American investigators continued working at the crash site Thursday. A spokesman for RAF Lakenheath said the aircraft was unarmed at the time of the crash.

The aircraft was one of six F/A-18C Hornets returning to California from Bahrain, where it was deployed as part of a Marine task force for operations against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria.