Air Force, Marine Corps Mourn 5 Service Members Killed In Recent Air Crashes


The Air Force and Marine Corps have identified the five service members killed in separate aircraft crashes on April 3 and April 4.

Air Force Maj. Stephen Del Bagno, a pilot with the Thunderbirds demonstration squadron, died on April 4 when his F-16 crashed during a training flight over the Nevada Test and Training range.

Related: After 5 Deaths In 2 Days, US Military Aviation Is In A Full-Blown Crisis»

“We are mourning the loss of Maj. Del Bagno,” Brig. Gen. Jeannie Leavitt, 57th Wing Commander, said Thursday in a statement. “He was an integral part of our team and our hearts are heavy with his loss. We ask everyone to provide his family and friends the space to heal during this difficult time.”

Four Marines assigned to Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 465 were killed on April 3, when their CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter crashed near El Centro, California, during a training mission.

Capt. Samuel A. Schultz, 28, was a pilot. Originally from Huntington Valley, Pennsylvania, he joined the Marine Corps in May 2012 and went on to deploy with the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit.

Related: More Troops Have Died In Aviation Mishaps Than In Afghanistan Combat Over The Past Year »

First Lt. Samuel D. Phillips, 27, was also a pilot. A native of Pinehurst, North Carolina, he joined the Marine Corps in August 2013.

Gunnery Sgt. Derik Holley, 33, was a crew chief. He came from Dayton, Ohio, and joined the Marine Corps in November 2003. During his time in the Corps, he deployed to Iraq twice, went to Okinawa as part of the Unit Deployment Program, and deployed with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit.

Lance Cpl. Taylor Conrad, 24, also served as a crew chief. He was originally from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and he joined the Marine Corps in May 2016.

“The hardest part of being a Marine is the tragic loss of life of a fellow brother-in-arms,” Col. Craig Leflore, commanding officer of Marine Aircraft Group 16, said Thursday in a statement. “My deepest sympathies go out to the families and friends of Capt. Samuel Shultz, 1st Lt. Samuel Phillips, Gunnery Sgt. Derik Holley, and Lance Cpl. Taylor Conrad.

“These ‘Warhorse’ Marines brought joy and laughter to so many around them. They each served honorably, wore the uniform proudly and were a perfect example of what makes our Marine Corps great — its people! They will forever be in our hearts and minds.”


Photo illustration by Paul Szoldra

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