The Marine Corps has identified the three Marines killed when their MV-22B Osprey crashed on Sunday morning local time in Australia.
Marine Maj. Tobin J. Lewis, 37; Capt. Eleanor V. LeBeau, 29; and Cpl. Spencer R. Collart, 21, were killed in Sunday’s crash, Marine Corps officials announced.
All three were assigned to Marine Helicopter Transport Squadron 363 at Marine Corps Base Hawaii in Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, a Corps news release says. They were taking part in Marine Rotational Force – Darwin at the time of their deaths.
Lewis, an MV-22B pilot, was the executive officer of Marine Helicopter Transport Squadron 363. Originally from Jefferson, Colorado, he was commissioned in 2008 and was promoted to major in 2018. He was previously assigned to Pensacola, Florida; Corpus Christi, Texas; and Jacksonville, North Carolina.
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His military awards include two Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medals, Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, Navy Unit Commendation, National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, and four Sea Service Deployment Ribbons.
LeBeau was also an MV-22B pilot. She was originally from Belleville, Illinois and was commissioned in 2018, and promoted to captain this March. She was previously assigned to Pensacola, Florida; Corpus Christi, Texas; and Jacksonville, North Carolina.
Her military awards include the National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, and Sea Service Deployment Ribbon.
Collart was an MV-22B Osprey crew chief originally from Arlington, Virginia. He was promoted to corporal in February and was previously assigned to Pensacola, Florida; and Jacksonville, North Carolina.
His military awards include the National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, and Sea Service Deployment Ribbon.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the family members and friends of the U.S. Marines lost in yesterday’s MV-22B Osprey crash in Australia,” State Department spokesman Matthew Miller tweeted on Monday. “We wish a full recovery to the U.S. Marines injured in the crash and thank Australia for its support.”
Three Marines are still being treated at Royal Darwin Hospital in Australia, of which one is in critical condition and the other two are listed as stable, the Marine Corps news release says. Seventeen others were treated and released for minor injuries.
The crash took place about 9:30 a.m. on Sunday on Melville Island, which is just off the coast of Darwin in Australia’s Northern Territory, according to the Marine Corps.
After the MV-22B went down, an American pilot in another aircraft told an Australian air traffic controller that there was “a significant fire” near the crash site, according to audio which was posted on X, formerly known as Twitter.
“We estimate a mass casualty event,” the American pilot says.
When an Australian C-130 was asked if it could provide overwatch for U.S. military aircraft at the scene, the Australian pilot quickly agreed, saying it was a “no brainer” that his aircraft would help the Marines in need.
Little information about how the Osprey went down has been publicly released. Investigators will look into the circumstances surrounding the crash.
The Osprey had a troubled development. Four of the aircraft crashed between June 1991 and December 2000, killing a total of 30 people.
In January 2001, the Marine officer in charge of the Corps’ V-22 program was relieved after he admitted to falsifying maintenance records for the aircraft. Three Marines were ultimately found guilty of misconduct in connection with the matter, two of which received letters of reprimand.
In June 2005, a company was indicted for falsely certifying the quality of titanium tubes in the V-22, according to the Congressional Research Service. The program was halted for 11 days during which the faulty tubes were replaced at a cost of $4 million.
Despite these setbacks, the Marine Corps replaced its last CH-46 Sea Knight helicopters with tiltrotor MV-22B Ospreys in 2015. Air Force Special Operations Command also flies Ospreys.
Both services have found that Ospreys are susceptible to a type of engine failure known as a dual hard clutch engagement, which caused an MV-22B crash in June 2022 that killed five Marines.
Marine Corps officials have not yet said whether a mechanical failure — or any other factor — might have contributed to the most recent MV-22B Osprey crash in Australia.
The MV-22B Osprey is the second Marine Corps aircraft involved in a fatal crash recently. On Thursday, an F/A-18D crashed near Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California, killing the pilot Maj. Andrew Mettler.
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