Crew members in Mississippi plane crash based at Stewart Air National Guard Base

NEWBURGH, N.Y. (NEWS10) – A deadly military plane crash in Mississippi on Monday has ties to Upstate New York.

Fifteen Marines and one Navy member were killed in the crash. Some of those aboard the plane were stationed in Newburgh at Stewart Air National Guard Base.

The unit from Stewart ANGB is a marine aerial refueling and transport squadron more commonly known as a VGMR.

Though many military personnel at the base are not native to Newburgh, people in the town felt the shock along with the rest of the country.

“It’s pretty crazy how something like that just happens all of a sudden, you know,” pizza shop owner Andrew Charles said. “One day you see them in here enjoying a slice of pizza, and the next thing you know, something happens. Life’s short, so for those men, I pray to those families.”

Local business owner, James Hamlet, said the service members were a pillar to the community.

“This is basically a military crowd,” he said. “Just a good group of people, and it’s good to have them so close. What can you say when you hear such a tragedy?”

In Newburgh, the Marine unit is what the Air Force base considers a “tenant unit” meaning they had space to work on the base and were cleared to fly in and out of there.

The squadron involved in the crash was VGMR 452. It was transporting personnel and equipment from the flight’s origin in Cherry Point, N.C., to the naval air field in El Centro, Calif., when it crashed.

Mississippi Patriot Guardsman David Weeks stopped by the scene Tuesday afternoon to honor those who were killed.

“These men and women join the service not for their own benefit, but for the benefit of our country,” Weeks said. “They make the sacrifices willing to lay everything on the line.”

Back in Newburgh, people felt as though they lost their friends and neighbors.

“I can’t say I’ve seen [a tragedy of this magnitude] from this base; you know, just the normal stuff you see on TV,” Hamlet said. “But when it hits home, you know somebody knows somebody who’s gonna be touched by this.”

Officials have not released the names of the victims.

NEWS10 ABC confirmed a Marine from the Capital Region was one of the 16 killed. As of Tuesday night, not all family and loved ones had been notified, so details will not be released out of respect for the family.

NEWS10 also confirmed a Vermont Marine is among the dead.

Gunnery Sgt. Brendan Johnson is from Colchester, Vt. His father, over the phone, is still making sense of it all.

“He was a very gentle person,” Kevin Johnson said. “He loved the outdoors. He was looking forward to retirement next year. He said it was time to move on and let some of the other kids take over.”

 

NEWS10 ABC was told the squadron was affectionately nicknamed ‘The Yankees’ by their fellow service members across the country.

It is unknown how the plane crashed.

Gov. Cuomo issued this statement:

“Saddened to learn the crew of yesterday’s Marine Corps crash was based at Stewart ANGB. As we learn more, keep them in your thoughts.”

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand issued this statement:

“I was devastated to learn about the military plane crash in Mississippi yesterday, and I was heartbroken to hear today that this aircraft belonged to the Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 452 based at Stewart Air National Guard Base. I offer my deepest condolences to the family members, friends, and fellow service members of the 16 members of our military who were on this plane, and I will do everything in my power to make sure we have a thorough investigation into how this tragic accident occurred, and what we can do to prevent it from happening again.”

Senator Chuck Schumer issued this statement:

“Praying for our selfless servicemen & women & their families today after we lost 16 brave souls in Mississippi. May they Rest In Peace.”

 

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