News Branch Marine Corps

Marines identify pilot in fatal F/A-18D Hornet crash

Maj. Andrew "Simple Jack" Mettler was an F/A-18 pilot with the Marine All-Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 224 at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort in South Carolina.
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Marine F/A-18 crash
The Marine Corps identified the Marine killed in an F/A-18D crash as Maj. Andrew Mettler, left, serving as Air Officer in Exercise Keen Sword 17 in 2016. Photos by U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Bryan Mage and Lance Cpl. Kyle Baskin.

The Marine Corps identified Maj. Andrew Mettler as the pilot of the F/A-18D Hornet who died on Thursday when the fighter jet crashed in Southern California

Mettler was in the air as part of a nighttime training flight. The F/A-18D Hornet crashed at 11:54 p.m. that night, just east of Marine Corps Air Station Miramar near San Diego, California. Mettler died in the incident and search and rescue teams recovered his body from the crash site

“I am deeply saddened to share the loss of Maj. Andrew ‘Simple Jack’ Mettler, a fellow Marine aviator who was honing his craft as a Hornet pilot and leader in his squadron, the Fighting Bengals,” Maj. Gen. Scott Benedict, commanding general for the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, said in a statement. “I had the great honor of flying in an F/A-18D with Simple Jack and will always remember his skill piloting the Hornet and his wry smile. It is with great humility that I offer my deepest condolences to the family, loved ones, and friends of Maj. Andrew Mettler. You remain at the forefront of our thoughts and prayers.”

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Mettler served as an F/A-18D pilot assigned to Marine All-Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 224 at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort in South Carolina.

Mettler joined the Marine Corps in 2007. According to the service, his awards include the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal with gold star in lieu of second award, the Sea Service Deployment Ribbon with four bronze stars in lieu of 5th award and the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal with gold star in lieu of second award, among others.

The F/A-18D crash is the fifth Class-A aviation mishap — defined as costing more than $2 million in damage or resulting in a fatality — this fiscal year. It is the first one this year stemming from a deadly Marine Corps plane crash.

“As 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, we mourn the loss of one of our brothers who was devoted to the Marine Corps mission, and it is our duty to continue forward in a manner that would reflect his devotion,” Benedict added. “Maj. Mettler’s legacy will remain with every Marine, Sailor and civilian that he served with, and we have the obligation to continue to uphold the values that he stood for. He will be deeply missed within the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing and among his brothers and sisters at the Fighting Bengals.”

The cause of the crash is currently under investigation.

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