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3 Marines dead in Osprey aircraft crash identified by officials

Marines ID'd
3 Marines presumed dead after Osprey crash identified 02:04

WASHINGTON -- Australia's Navy found the wreckage Monday of a U.S. Marine Osprey aircraft that crashed into the sea during an attempt to land on the USS Green Bay on Saturday.

Three Marines who were lost in the accident have been identified, CBS News national security correspondent David Martin reports.

The Marine Corps and family members identified them as 1st. Lt. Benjamin Cross and Cpl. Nathan Ordway -- both members of the flight crew -- and Pfc. Ruben Velasco, who had just turned 19.

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"The loss of every Marine is felt across our entire Marine Corps family," Col. Tye R. Wallace, Commanding Officer, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, said in the statement to CBS News. "To the families of the brave Marines we lost -- there is no way for us to understand what you are going through."

"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 statement added.

The Osprey, which can fly like an airplane and hover like a helicopter, struck the ship's stern as it descended and fell into the water. Ships, small boats and helicopters pulled 23 Marines from the water but searched in vain for the other three, who couldn't get out before the Osprey sank.

The Marines plan to bring the wreckage to the surface after its discovery.

The Osprey can carry more troops farther and faster than any helicopter, but its tilt rotor technology has been criticized ever since a horrendous crash 17 years ago in which 19 Marines died.

But Robert Cross, the father of 1st. Lt. Cross, said his son trusted the aircraft.

1st. Lt. Benjamin Cross' family CBS News

"He told me that they had so many redundant safety systems in the plane that if one failed there was always a backup," he said.

Marine Corps statistics show that over the last five years, the Osprey has the third-highest accident rate, after the Harrier Jump Jet -- another vertical take-off and landing plane -- and older models of the F-18 jet fighter.

The Marines are expected to order a safety stand down for all their aircraft so crews can take a day off from flying and spend it reviewing their operating procedures.

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