Remains of 3 Marines Killed in December KC-130J Crash Identified

A U.S. Marine Corps KC-130J Super Hercules, assigned to Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron (VMGR) 152 out of Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, takes off during RED FLAG-Alaska (RF-A) 16-2 at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, June 10, 2016. (U.S. Air Force photo/Alejandro Pena)
A U.S. Marine Corps KC-130J Super Hercules, assigned to Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron (VMGR) 152 out of Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, takes off during RED FLAG-Alaska (RF-A) 16-2 at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, June 10, 2016. (U.S. Air Force photo/Alejandro Pena)

More than six months after three Marines were killed when two planes crashed during a refueling exercise off the coast of Japan, the Corps is finally ready to release the Marines' remains to their families.

The remains of Lt. Col. Kevin R. Herrmann, 38; Maj. James M. Brophy, 36; and Staff Sgt. Maximo A. Flores, 27; have been identified after being recovered from the accident site, Marine officials said in a Wednesday release.

"Our thoughts and prayers remain with the families and all those who loved our fallen Warriors," Maj. Gen. Thomas Weidley, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing's former commanding general, said in a statement. "I am extremely grateful for the professionalism, dedication, and support of those who brought our Marines home."

The three were killed Dec. 6 when an F/A-18 Hornet and KC-130J refueling tanker went down about 200 miles off Japan's coast. They were assigned to Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 152, based in Iwakuni, Japan.

The remains of two other Marines in that plane, Cpls. Daniel E. Baker, 21, and Cpl. William C. Ross, 21, were not recovered, according to Marine officials.

One of the Hornet pilots, Capt. Jahmar F. Resilard, was located after the crash and pronounced dead at the scene. His co-pilot survived the accident and was rescued.

The cause of the mishap remains under investigation.

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The salvage mission to recover the Marines' remains took place May 27 to June 7, after the KC-130J's cockpit voice and digital flight recorders were found.

Herrmann, Brophy and Flores were each married. Herrmann had three children and Brophy had two.

At the time of the crash, Lt. Col. Mitchell Maury, the KC-130J squadron's commanding officer, called the fallen Marines exceptional aviators and said they would be eternally missed.

In April, the commanding officer of the Hornet squadron was relieved following a loss of trust and confidence in his ability to lead. That decision, which was made by Weidley, was a "direct result of decisions made that may have been related to the fatal decision," Marine Corps Times reported at the time, citing an unnamed source.

-- Gina Harkins can be reached at gina.harkins@military.com. Follow her on Twitter @ginaaharkins.

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