In Leflore County officials met to discuss the tragic crash involving a Marine aircraft that left 16 dead on Monday.
Brig. Gen. Bradley S. James, commanding general, 4th Marine Aircraft Wing, Marine Forces Reserve, addressed the media with what officials know so far surrounding the Yanky 72 flight plane crash.
James said that the flights mission was being conducted by a team based out of North Carolina. The plane was headed to a Naval facility in California and after that a Marine Corp Air station in Arizona.
Around 4:00 p.m. on Monday afternoon air traffic control lost contact with the plane. Shortly after smoke was reported in Itta Bena. Two large impact areas were found half a mile north of Highway 82, and half a mile South of Highway 82.
James said there are indications that something went wrong at cruise altitude, due to the large path of debris.
Nine of the marines were from VMGR-452 Newberg New York, six marines from Second Raider Batalion, at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina and one Navy Hospital Corpsman with a Second Raider Battalion, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.
The families have been notified but no names or specifics will be released for another few days.
James said the response in the mishap will continue in a four phase procedure. The first phase, to recover the remains and notify the next of kin for each soldier that died, phase two, preserve the crash site and equipment, phase three, conduct an investigation, phase four, clean up and restore the area.
“This tragic mishap has brought together many wonderful people from Federal, State, and local agencies,” said James. “I also want to thank the rock solid people of the local area and the assistance you’ve been able to provide us make Mississippi great.”
As James concluded his remarks, Marshall Fisher, Commissioner of the Department of Public Safety for Mississippi.
“What happened Monday is a grim reminder of the sacrifice of the sailors, marines, airman, that serve our great country,” said Fisher.
The Department of Public Safety and numerous other state agencies have secured the crash site and Fisher asked members of the public to stay away from the site and if they have found any items that might have been involved in the incident, to contact 1-800-ATF-GUNS.
Fisher said anyone who has removed items from the crash site area could be subject to criminal prosecution.
Anyone in the area should be aware that possible explosions may occur periodically over the next few days as ordinance disposal teams dispose of devices to render them safe. Fisher said there is no need for alarm.