1 killed, 1 rescued, 5 still missing off Japanese coast after C-130 and F/A-18 fighter jet crash

| December 6, 2018

Article by By: Geoff Ziezulewicz , Shawn Snow , and Tara Copp

ChipNASA brought us the sad news yesterday evening. Two Marines have been recovered, and sadly one perished. The five remaining Marines are still missing, and the search continues.

Search and rescue operations were underway off the Japanese coast early Thursday local time after a Marine Corps KC-130 with five crew members and an F/A-18 fighter jet with two crew members collided midair at about 1:42 a.m., roughly 55 nautical miles south-southeast of Cape Muroto, Kochi Prefecture.

Earlier today, military officials announced that one Marine had been rescued and was being evaluated by medical personnel at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, where the service members are based. Japanese officials later said the Marine was one of the F/A-18 crew members.

Later, Lt. Gen. Jerry Martinez, commander of U.S. Forces Japan, told Military Times that a second person had been recovered from the crash and was transported by helicopter back to Japan and was under evaluation.

In a statement late Thursday local time, Okinawa-based III MEF said the second recovered Marine had ” been declared deceased by competent medical personnel.”

Neither Martinez nor III MEF would say which aircraft the deceased Marine was supporting at the time of the crash.

The entire article may be found at The Marine Times.

Category: Marines, Search and Rescue

Comments (42)

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  1. The Other Whitey says:

    How the hell did that happen? Bad weather? Pilot error? It’s a really big sky for two planes to try to share the same piece of it. Praying the other five are found safely.

    • AW1Ed says:

      Night Air-to-Air Refueling (AAR) training. The F/A-18’s wingman presumably saw the accident occur, and stayed over the site to help with the SAR effort.
      Very sad news.

      • The Other Whitey says:

        That makes sense. It sucks, but it makes sense. Hope the other five are found soon, and safely.

      • Mick says:


        Sorry; didn’t see your reply to TOW before I posted my comment below.

        Didn’t mean to double-tap the night AAR training answer.

        • AW1Ed says:

          No harm no foul, Mick. All I know about AAR is from a P-8 perspective; on the boom and not probe-and-drogue.

    • Mick says:


      Sounds like the mishap may have occurred while the aircraft were conducting night air-to-air refueling training.

      The F/A-18 could have been joining on the KC-130 in order to plug into one of the KC-130’s drogues to get some gas. Not much room for error, especially at night.

      Sadly, it’s not looking good for the KC-130 crew at this point in time.

      Hopefully the surviving F/A-18 crewmember will be able to describe exactly what happened.

      • The Other Whitey says:

        In my initial read, I missed the K before C-130. My bad.

      • Club Manager, USA ret. says:

        Please splain your comment. Back in the day I hitched a ride on an AF KB-50 tanker out of RAF Schulthorpe. It was a converted B-29. The aircraft refuled F-100’s over Spain by lowering a boom and the 100 flew up and plugged in. Got some great black and white stills. Well it was 1960. So my guess is the F/A-18 may have misgauged the hook up or the KC-130 may have hit an air pocket and bounced into the jet. People don’t realize what heroes the crews that fly these missions even in peacetime are.

        • Mason says:

          You’re describing the USAF’s preferred method, the flying boom aerial refueling. The navy-types (and most of the rest of the world) use the probe and drogue method in which the tanker drops a hose behind which the receiving aircraft flies up into and plugs into.

          The flying boom allows more fuel to flow, but requires a dedicated airframe.

          • AW1Ed says:

            Differing configurations for the receiving aircraft as well.

            CM, Check the header pic- that’s probe and drogue.

          • Club Manager, USA ret. says:

            Just found the picture. A long hose with a basket type gizz on the end which the 100 plugged into. Wondering if I was thinking about the Air Force KC-135’s

  2. Slick Goodlin says:

    None of the articles state the obvious.
    Only the F-18 crew had the ability to instantly parachute from their plane with flotation gear, a raft and survival equipment attached to them.
    The C-130 crew had to go down with their aircraft.

    • 5th/77th FA says:

      And a KC-130 probably doesn’t glide or land on water very well. I would venture to guess that flying a tanker with partially filled gas tanks is kinda like driving a tanker truck with partially filled tanker. Weight, load balance, sloshing?

      Sad. As we know, training for war can be as dangerous as the war itself. RIP Warriors.

  3. AnotherPat says:

    It is heartbreaking to hear this, especially around the Holiday season.

    Also saw this on the news last night after hearing about the crash. Broke my heart as deaths could had been prevented:

    “Report: Propeller Blade Broke, Causing Military Plane Crash in Mississippi:


    “Investigators say bad maintenance practices at a Georgia air force base missed a deteriorating propeller blade that broke off six years later as a U.S. Marine Corps transport plane cruised over Mississippi at 20,000 feet, causing the KC-130T to break into pieces and plunge into a soybean field, killing 15 Marines and a Navy corpsman.”

    “The report on the causes of the July 10, 2017 crash, released Wednesday, slams “consistent production errors” at Warner Robins Air Logistics Complex in Warner Robins, Georgia, saying evidence from the crashed plane shows employees missed growing corrosion on the key propeller blade during a 2011 overhaul. The report finds workers at the base did a poor job of following the Navy’s specific procedure for its propellers, in part because the vast majority of blades overhauled at the base followed different procedures. The report indicates the Air Force has now agreed to adopt the Navy’s more demanding overhaul procedures for all propellers.”

    Rest In Peace to all that perished and hopefully others will be found alive from yesterday’s crash.

    • AW1Ed says:

      This is pretty much what caused the VP-47 ditch in the Gulf of Oman, March 1995, due to an unprecedented loss of all four engines. All crew were successfully rescued. How do I know all this? the RADAR operator on that flight is in the cube right next to mine.


    • HMC Ret says:

      Pat: I read a very long article about this yesterday. During subsequent investigations by military personnel at the Georgia base, including at least one flag officer, the mostly civilian, civil service personnel actually got hostile and were disrespectful to the investigating team members. Sounds as if CYA was the plan of the day. Being civilians, the union would protect them and they might be able to get away with anything short of a felony. Can you image a military member getting hostile with a flag officer? Bottom line is this appears to have been a series of fuck ups. There were sufficient numbers of personnel and ‘teams’ such that, apparently, the blame/responsibility cannot be placed on any one individual or team. Great sadness at the loss of life, particularly since it was so easily avoidable had those responsible simply done their duties.

      • AnotherPat says:

        HMC Ret…can you please share that link/story?

        Unbelievable…just unbelievable about those civilian service personnal and their behavior! You are so right when you commented about the unions protecting them.

        The accident should not have happened. PERIOD. It truly sounds as if workers got lazy, extremely sloppy and where were Quality Control personnelfor inspection? (Rhectorical Question).

        This is going to get interesting as time goes by as to who gets the ax on the incident….or who gets protected.

        So sad….and at the same time, gets me P-O.

        • HMC Ret says:

          Pat: Here is the headline:

          Investigation blames Air Force and Navy for systemic failures in fatal Marine Corps C-130 crash that killed 16

          Can’t pull up and transpose link, but go to”


          It’s the main story on page one. One of the things wrong with the civil service system … LACK OF ACCOUNTABILITY.
          How do they get away with this shit? UNION

          Anyway, go to Militarytimes.com

          It’s VERY long and the part about the civilians is near the end. It describes various areas where personnel dropped the ball. Let me know what you think.

          • AW1Ed says:

            Poor maintenance contributed to a devastating C-130 crash. Here’s how the Air Force will make sure it doesn’t happen again.

            The Air Force Times

            • AnotherPat says:

              Ed & HMC Ret:

              Recommend another Post be generated on this Topic for comments and discussion?

              I’m sorry I kidnapped this thread when the topic was about the crash in Japan.

              Would love to
              share comments on what you both shared, but just under another post with the heading being the Air Force Times article.

              What do you both think?

              Thank You both for the info.

            • 26Limabeans says:

              That was an interesting mishap report. Tanks

      • 5th/77th FA says:

        You nailed it Chief. This one is up close and personal with me. Robins AFB, Depot Level Maint., is only about 20 miles away as the crow flies. Its been here since WWII and has had a fine reputation and multiple missions in all of those years. One of my main men (former wing wiper) is a foreman out there and was heavily involved in all this. Lots and lots of finger pointing, but no one stepping up to take responsibility. And that was the suckiest part. Not like they were trying to prosecute anyone, they just wanted to find out how it happened. The local union there has had a lot of problems over the last several years, with internal bickering, and at one point in time the national union hqs stepping in to take over. This incident played a part in that too.

        There was some serious lobbying by the base and some of the Congress Critters on getting this work done here. Initially the Navy was very much against that, saying the aircraft had different needs that the base wasn’t familiar with. Politics and the money pushed this objection to the side. Our boy USAFRet may be able to shed some more light on this. He may work there, or at the very least, know more people that do.

        The local TV had some interview time with the Widow of one of the killed service members. From what I understand, she had pushed real hard for a thorough investigation of this incident, mainly because of some concerns her husband had shared with her before it went down. Sad that people who have a very well paying job, didn’t do their job.

  4. Sparks says:

    This is sad news to hear. God rest them well and may He comfort their families.

  5. AnotherPat says:

    Ed…Oh,my gosh…when I read that report..so glad all the crew were rescued, to include your work mate..

    Saw a visual on CBS News last night where they went into detail explaining how the propeller blade came off, striking the plane, which caused the other propeller to come off. There was no way any of them could be saved.

    Again, it broke my heart when I saw the pictures of all that lost their lives that day…

    CBS also interviewed one of the Widows as well as BG Bradley James, who commanded the Air Wing and BG John Kubinec, current Commander at Robbins Air Force Base:

    “Crash In Mississippi In 2017 Could Have Been Prevented Military Investigation Finds”:


    IMHO, someone’s head will roll on this incident, if it already has not happen. Speculate lawsuits will be generated.

    • AW1Ed says:

      This part is telling: “The report indicates the Air Force has now agreed to adopt the Navy’s more demanding overhaul procedures for all propellers.”

      The Navy lost a bird, but no injuries due to the pilot’s phenomenal airmansahip. Shame the Air Force didn’t learn from that incident and apply Navy’s practices then.

  6. HMC Ret says:

    Speaking of mishaps, the following are incidents of the loss of nuclear weapons. Some have not been recovered. I wonder if there’s a finder’s fee?


    “Broken Arrow” is the military’s code word for an accident involving a nuclear weapon.
    Since 1950, there have been almost three dozen acknowledged “Broken Arrow” incidents.
    Six times, the US has lost a nuclear weapon in an accident that it was unable to recover, including a Navy plane that crashed into Puget Sound with a nuclear depth charge, and an attack plane that rolled off a carrier near Japan and sank with its B43 nuclear bomb.
    Several times, nuclear weapons have been dropped or accidentally released near American cities.
    In many of these, the nuclear weapon’s conventional explosives actually detonated, and only the bomb’s safety precautions prevented a nuclear explosion.
    * In February 1950, a B-36 Peacemaker strategic bomber was scheduled to make a training flight, taking off from Alaska and making a mock bombing run in Texas before returning. The Peacemaker carried one Mark 4 nuclear bomb, with the plutonium core removed. As the bomber crossed over Canada, however, ice began to clog the engine carburetors, and three engines had to be shut down. As the remaining engines began to lose power, the crew realized that the plane could not make it to safety. Steering the bomber out over the Pacific Ocean, the pilot jettisoned the nuclear weapon. The Mark 4’s conventional explosives detonated on impact and the bomb was destroyed. The crew then turned back over land and bailed out. Twelve of the seventeen airmen were rescued.
    * In April 1950, a B-29 Superfortress took off from a base in New Mexico, bound for Guam. It was carrying General Robert Travis and a number of other officers. It was also carrying a Mark 4 bomb. When the plane developed engine trouble, it tried to make an emergency landing, but the landing gear was disabled. The resulting crash set off the 2.5 tons of conventional explosive inside the Mark 4, killing a number of people on the plane and on the ground, including General Travis.
    * One of the most potentially serious accidents happened in January 1958 at a base in Morocco. A B-47 was taking off on a training mission carrying a nuclear weapon with its plutonium core intact and installed in the bomb, though the weapon’s electrical system had been “safed”. A tire blew on takeoff, the tail hit the ground, and the fuel tank caught on fire. Remarkably, the bomb’s conventional explosives did not detonate.
    * What is probably the most famous Broken Arrow incident happened in January 1966. A B-52 on airborne alert over the Mediterranean was refueling from a tanker plane for its return to the US when the two jets collided. The Stratofortress was carrying four safed B-28 hydrogen bombs, which fell near the town of Palomares, Spain. Two of the B-28s detonated their explosives on impact, scattering radioactive material over a large area. One of the remaining bombs was found in a streambed. The other one fell into the Mediterranean, where it was found by a local fisherman.
    * The last known Broken Arrow happened in January 1968. A B-52 was flying an airborne alert over Greenland when a fire broke out, forcing the crew to make an emergency landing at the US base in Thule. The bomber crashed short of the runway. One of the four hydrogen bombs aboard detonated its conventional explosives. Two of the bombs melted right through the pack ice and fell into the arctic ocean below. One of these was found on the seafloor 11 years later; the other was never found.

    • AnotherPat says:

      Loss of nuclear weapons? Did not know the history of all of this.

      Hard to believe the last incident happened 50 years ago.

      Thank You for sharing, HMC Ret.

      • 5th/77th FA says:

        Neither The 5th Battalion 77th Field Artillery Regiment (Sergeant Missile) nor The 1st Battalion 333rd Field Artillery Regiment (Lance) ever misplaced, lost, orphaned, or cooked off the nuclear warheads that we were responsible for while I was assigned there. We had to sign for them puppies, they were expensive, and the ammo platoon told us we’d have to pay for them.

        Only time I really got nervous about a “hot” nuke was when the airdales were flying us and the missile with launcher on an excursion. I knew about these “lost warheads” and when I mentioned it to the load master, he got nervous. Good times.

    • 11B-Mailclerk says:

      We had one that fell in Goldsboro, NC. They recovered most of the bomb, but not the secondary.

      Another was off Savannah, lost somewhere in the muck of the inlet.

      In this day of less than 100 total flyable B52s, it may be hard to imagine that we once had thousands of ready-to-go bombers, and dozens airborne at all times.

      Also, the early weapons were somewhat … spartan …. in hard-failsafes. In the Goldsboro incident, a single low-voltage switch in the open position prevented a megaton-plus surface-burst detonation. The resultant fallout would have devastated quite a wide area.

      • HMC Ret says:

        11B: Remember that device that was saved by what was, basically, a $10 part. Use the $10 figure for relative purposes only. Had that little part failed, well, people would have had even more ‘splainin to do.

    • Bill R. says:

      I believe there is still a missing nuke in the water somewhere near Savannah, GA. It was lost in 1958.

      • 5th/77th FA says:

        Bill R. IIRC they located them a while back and determined that it was safer to leave it where it was. Offshore in fairly deep water. Some one here may have, or can find more info.

    • MSG Eric says:

      I don’t know what’s worse, the fact we lost a Nuclear weapon, or that it happens so often there’s actually a name for it.

      • 11B-Mailclerk says:

        They had names and contingency plans well in advance, including for damaged and stolen.

        Given the crash frequency of military aircraft, which we occasionally use well in excess of design intentions, it is wondrous how few weapons were mis-handled roughly.

        The overall “alert weapon” efforts are historic in readiness versus accident ratio.

        Russia was solidly deterred by it. I suspect they had a hard time believing the reports from their spies.

    • Sapper3307 says:

      A good video of the missing puppy’s in Canada. Any body the spec-ops that tried to blow up the wreckage?https://youtu.be/piDEE80nfgo

    • Hondo says:

      Actually, the last Broken Arrow incident was in 1980, when the Titan II blew up in its silo near Damascus, AR. The warhead was thrown out of the missile silo and ended up about 100′ from the site’s entry gate.


      Per Wikipedia, there have been a total of 32 US “Broken Arrow” incidents. The number of such incidents occurring in other nuclear states does not appear to be publicly available, and may not be known with certainty.


      The 2004 purported “discovery” of the warhead lost during the 1958 Tybee Island midair collision turned out to be a false alarm. Further research indicated that naturally occurring monzanite deposits had provided the radiation signal originally believed by some possibly to be the lost bomb. The warhead today remains presumed lost and buried in bottom sediment somewhere in Wassaw Sound.


  7. AnotherPat says:

    Thank You, Ed and Mick on explaining what happened reference last night’s incident in Japan.

  8. HMC Ret says:

    As Jonn said on many occasions, military training is dangerous work, not to be taken lightly. Train hard for the time when an advesary wants to kill you. I think Jonn was on to something; I’m sure of it.

    Rest in Peace, Warriors. I am humbled by your sacrifice

  9. AnotherPat says:

    Ed & HMC Ret:

    Found the Military Times article that HMC Ret mentioned.

    This article seems to be more detailed than the Air Force Times article.

    Recommend the Military Times article be posted for Friday’s post instead of the Air Force Times.

    Thank You, Ed, for doing this and thank you, again, HMC Ret for sharing:

    “Investigation Blames Air Force and Navy For Systemic Failures In Fatal Marine Corps C-130 Crash That Killed 16”