U.S. Marines killed in Australian Osprey crash are identified

SAN DIEGO — Three U.S. Marines killed in the weekend crash of an Osprey aircraft in Australia were identified Monday.

They were Cpl. Spencer R. Collart, 21, of Arlington, Virginia; Capt. Eleanor V. LeBeau, 29, of Belleville, Illinois; and Maj. Tobin J. Lewis, 37, of Jefferson, Colorado, their unit, Marine Rotational Force-Darwin, said in a statement.

Collart was the Osprey squadron’s crew chief, LeBeau was its pilot, and Lewis was its executive officer, the force said. All, based at Marine Corps Base Hawaii on Oahu, were decorated Marines who had been awarded the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, it said.

“We are deeply saddened by the loss of three respected and beloved members of the MRF-D family,” Col. Brendan Sullivan, commanding officer of Marine Rotational Force-Darwin, said in the statement.

Image:
A MV-22B Osprey prepares to land on the USS America off Brisbane, Australia, on June 20.Darren England / AAP Image via AP

The force said three other Marines injured in the crash on Melville Island Sunday remained under the care of Royal Darwin Hospital in Darwin, roughly 60 miles south of the crash site.

One of the three was described as being in critical condition; the two others were stabilized and recovering, the Darwin unit said. Seventeen Marines injured in the crash have been released from the Darwin hospital.

The Osprey, with 23 Marines on board, crashed “while transporting troops during a routine training exercise,” the Marine Corps said in a statement Sunday.

President Joe Biden expressed sorrow for the loss Monday night on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter. “Jill and I send our deepest condolences to the families of the Marines who lost their lives in this deadly crash. We are praying for those who also suffered injuries,” the post said.

The 2,000-member Darwin force, led from and mostly drawn from Camp Pendleton in San Diego County, is in its 12th year of engaging in exercises in Australia and making the U.S.’ presence known in a region also influenced by China.

Its Osprey squadron was participating in Exercise Predators Run, a 12-day joint-training mission that includes the U.S., Australia, the Philippines, East Timor and Indonesia.

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese over the weekend called the crash a “tragic incident.”

After an Osprey tiltrotor aircraft crashed last year, killing five Marines in the California desert, the Navy put all aircraft under its command, including non-deployed Marine Corps aircraft, on a temporary “safety pause.”

Ospreys have suffered multiple crashes that have killed more than 50 people, according to the publication Task & Purpose. They can take off and land almost vertically, like helicopters, while they can fly along horizontal lines, like airplanes.

source: nbcnews.com