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4 Marines, 1 critical, still hospitalized following Osprey training accident

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    Debris rises as a Marine Corps Osprey aircraft, not pictured, makes a hard landing on Bellows Air Force Station near Waimanalo, Hawaii, Sunday, May 17, 2015. Several Marines from the aircraft were taken to a hospital, military officials say. (AP Photo/Kimberly Hynd)

One California Marine is in critical condition, and three others remain hospitalized in stable condition, following Sunday’s crash of a MV-22 Osprey helicopter at Bellows Air Force Station in Waimanalo.

The crash occurred about 11:40 a.m., taking the life of one Marine during what military officials say was a routine training exercise. He was identified Monday night as Lance Cpl. Joshua E. Barron, 24, of Spokane, Wash.

Seventeen Marines were released from the hospital, Capt. Brian Block, a Marine Corps spokesman, said Monday.

The Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft, which can take off and land like a helicopter but flies like an airplane, had a “hard-landing mishap,” the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit said in a statement. The MV-22 Osprey had 22 people aboard — 21 Marines and one Navy corpsman assigned to the unit.

Block said the next of kin for the Marine who was killed have been notified. The identity of the Marine will be withheld until 24 hours after that notification was made.

The Marines are attached to the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit based at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton in Cali­for­nia and were aboard the USS Essex, a helicopter carrier, preparing for a Western Pacific deployment.

The 15th MEU will continue their sustainment training exercises, which are expected to conclude May 21, before continuing their deployment, Block said.

The incident is under investigation, and MV-22 Osprey flight operations are continuing, he said.

The crash took place in a flat landing zone area known as “LZ Gull,” about 1,000 to 2,000 yards from the entrance to the Air Force station, which is next to the public beach area. The Osprey was destroyed in the accident.

Two squadrons of Ospreys with 24 aircraft will be based at Kane­ohe Bay beginning this year.

Kimberly Hynd told the Associated Press that she was hiking the popular Lanikai Pillbox Trail and could see three Osprey aircraft performing maneuvers from her vantage point in the hills above the base. 

She noticed them kicking up dirt but then saw smoke and fire. Hynd, who estimated she was 2 to 3 miles away, didn’t hear the sound of a large crash.

“It looked like they were doing some sort of maneuver or formation — and so I was taking pictures of it because usually you can’t see them that close up,” Hynd said. 

Donald Gahit said he looked outside his house after hearing sirens pass by and saw smoke rising from the air station. 

“At first I thought it was clouds, but it was moving fast and it was pretty dark,” the Waimanalo resident said.

Ospreys may be equipped with radar, lasers and a missile defense system, and each can carry 24 Marines into combat.

Built by Boeing Co. and Bell, a unit of Textron Inc., the Osprey program was nearly scrapped after a history of mechanical failures and two test crashes that killed 23 Marines in 2000.

The aircraft have since been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. Some Osprey also are helping with earthquake relief efforts in Nepal. 

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