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Corps Identifies 16 Troops Killed in Tragic KC-130 Crash

From top L: Caine Goyette, Sean Elliott, Mark Hopkins, Brendan Johnson, Joshua Snowden, Owen Lennon, Julian Kevianne, Daniel Baldassare, Collin Schaaff, William Kundrat, Robert Cox, Talon Leach, Chad Jenson, Joseph Murray, Dietrich Schmieman, Ryan Lohrey
From top L: Caine Goyette, Sean Elliott, Mark Hopkins, Brendan Johnson, Joshua Snowden, Owen Lennon, Julian Kevianne, Daniel Baldassare, Collin Schaaff, William Kundrat, Robert Cox, Talon Leach, Chad Jenson, Joseph Murray, Dietrich Schmieman, Ryan Lohrey

They ranged in rank from corporal to major. Some were just beginning their military careers, while others were on the verge of qualifying for retirement. The youngest was just 20 years old.

Several troops had returned just months earlier from deployments in support of the fight against ISIS militants in Iraq and Syria. One had joined the Marine Corps just days before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and had gone on to make the military his career.

Friday morning, four days after a KC-130T transport aircraft crashed over LeFlore County, Mississippi, the Corps announced the identities of all 15 Marines and one sailor who perished in the tragic crash.

Seven of the troops belonged to Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command's 2nd Raider Battalion and were traveling from North Carolina to the West Coast for pre-deployment training. The other nine were KC-130 air crew belonging to Marine Aerial Refueler Squadron (VMGR)-452, a reserve unit out of Newburgh, New York.

For the Marine Corps, the tragedy is the most deadly aviation mishap in a dozen years, stunning the service's close-knit community. For MARSOC, the tragedy is the second aviation disaster to claim seven lives in just two years, following a 2015 UH-60 Black Hawk crash near Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, that claimed the lives of the seven Raiders and four soldiers aboard.

"On behalf of the entire Marine Corps, I want to express my deepest condolences to the families of those killed in the aircraft mishap yesterday afternoon in Mississippi," Commandant Gen. Robert Neller said in a statement Tuesday. "Our focus remains on notifying and supporting the families while we conduct a thorough investigation into this tragedy."

These are the fallen:

Daniel I. Baldassare

Cpl. Daniel L. Baldassare (U.S. Marine Corps photo)

Cpl. Daniel I. Baldassare, 20, a KC-130 aircraft crew master with VMGR-452. Baldassare was from Monmouth, New Jersey, and had joined the Marine Corps on Sept. 14, 2015. According to local media reports, Baldassare was a 2015 graduate of Colts Neck High School and had wanted to be a Marine since he was a teenager. He was promoted to the rank of corporal June 1.

Collin J. Schaaff

Cpl. Collin J. Schaaff (U.S. Marine Corps photo)

Cpl. Collin J. Schaaff, 22, an aircraft ordnance technician with VMGR-452. Schaaff was from Pierce, Washington, and joined the Corps on Aug. 25, 2015. He was promoted to his current rank Dec. 1, 2015, and had earned the Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal.

Julian M. Kevianne

Sgt. Julian M. Kevianne (U.S. Marine Corps photo)

Sgt. Julian M. Kevianne, 31, a KC-130 aircraft crew master with VMGR-452. Kevianne was from Dallas and joined the service Dec. 1, 2009. He had previously deployed to Afghanistan from November 2012 to March 2013. He was promoted to his current rank April 1, 2015.

Owen J. Lennon

Sgt. Owen J. Lennon (U.S. Marine Corps photo)

Sgt. Owen J. Lennon, 26, a KC-130 aircraft crew master with VMGR-452. Lennon was from Rockland, New York, and joined the service Oct. 12, 2010. He had deployed to Afghanistan from November 2012 to March 2013. He was promoted to his current rank Jan. 1, 2015.

Chad E. Jenson

Sgt. Chad E. Jenson (U.S. Marine Corps photo)

Sgt. Chad E. Jenson, 25, a critical skills operator with MARSOC's 2nd Raider Battalion. Jenson was from Los Angeles and joined the service Sept. 13, 2010. He was promoted to his current rank Oct. 1, 2014.

Talon R. Leach

Sgt. Talon R. Leach (U.S. Marine Corps photo)

Sgt. Talon R. Leach, 27, a critical skills operator with MARSOC's 2nd Raider Battalion. Leach was from Callaway, Missouri, and joined the Corps Jan. 5, 2010. He had deployed in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, the anti-ISIS fight, from December 2015 to July 2016 and earned the Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation. He was promoted to his current rank Sept. 1, 2013.

Joseph J. Murray

Sgt. Joseph J. Murray (U.S. Marine Corps photo)

Sgt. Joseph J. Murray, 26, a critical skills operator with MARSOC's 2nd Raider Battalion. Murray was from Duval, Florida, and joined the service Aug. 31, 2009. He had deployed to Afghanistan twice, from September 2010 to March 2011, and from January 2012 to July 2012. His awards included the Navy Unit Commendation, the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (three awards), and the Combat Action Ribbon. He was promoted to his current rank Aug. 1, 2014.

Dietrich A. Schmieman

Sgt. Dietrich A. Schmieman (U.S. Marine Corps photo)

Sgt. Dietrich A. Schmieman, 26, a critical skills operator with MARSOC's 2nd Raider Battalion. Schmieman was from Benton, Washington, and joined the Marine Corps on Sept. 20, 2010. He had deployed to Afghanistan twice, from September 2010 to March 2011, and from January 2012 to July 2012. His awards included the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (two awards), the Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal (two awards), and the Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation. He was promoted to his current rank Jan. 1, 2014.

Ryan M. Lohrey

Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Ryan Lohrey (U.S. Marine Corps photo)

Petty Officer 2nd Class Ryan M. Lohrey, 30, a special amphibious reconnaissance corpsman with MARSOC's 2nd Raider Battalion. Lohrey was from Middletown, Indiana, and joined the Navy on Sept. 26, 2007. He had deployed to Afghanistan from October 2010 to May 2011 and in support of Operation Inherent Resolve from July 2016 to January 2017. His awards included the Purple Heart, the Combat Action Ribbon (two awards), the Good Conduct Medal (three awards), the Navy Unit Commendation Ribbon, and the Meritorious Unit Commendation Ribbon. He was promoted to his current rank Dec. 16, 2012.

Joshua M. Snowden

Staff Sgt. Joshua M. Snowden (U.S. Marine Corps photo)

Staff Sgt. Joshua M. Snowden, 31, a KC-130 aircraft crew master with VMGR-452. Snowden was from Dallas and joined the Corps on July 19, 2004. He had deployed to Afghanistan from June to August 2014, and with a special-purpose Marine air-ground task force from October 2014 to January 2015. His awards included the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal and Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal.

Robert H. Cox

Staff Sgt. Robert H. Cox (U.S. Marine Corps photo)

Staff Sgt. Robert H. Cox, 28, a critical skills operator with MARSOC's 2nd Raider Battalion. Cox was from Ventura, California, and had joined the service July 23, 2007. He had deployed twice to Iraq, from March to June 2009, and from July 2009 to January 2010; once to Afghanistan, from May to December 2011; and in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, from January to July 2016. His awards included the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (two awards), the Combat Action Ribbon, the Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, the Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation, and the Navy Unit Commendation Medal.

William J. Kundrat

Staff Sgt. William J. Kundrat (U.S. Marine Corps photo)

Staff Sgt. William J. Kundrat, 33, a critical skills operator with MARSOC's 2nd Raider Battalion. Kundrat was from Frederick, Maryland, and had joined the Corps on July 30, 2002. He had deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan from March to June 2003; to Iraq again from September 2005 to April 2006; to Senegal from April to May 2010; and in support of Operation Inherent Resolve from December 2015 to June 2016. His awards include the Combat Action Ribbon, Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal (four awards), the Joint Meritorious Unit Award, the Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation (two awards), the Navy Unit Commendation, and the Presidential Unit Citation.

Mark A. Hopkins

Gunnery Sgt. Mark A. Hopkins (U.S. Marine Corps photo)

Gunnery Sgt. Mark A. Hopkins, 34, a tactical systems operator/mission specialist with VMGR-452. Hopkins was from Chesapeake, Virginia, and joined the service Sept. 4, 2001. He deployed to provide humanitarian assistance after the Indian Ocean tsunami in January 2005 and had deployed three times to Afghanistan, from July to August 2001, from August to September 2005, and from May to June 2014. His awards included the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal (five awards), Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation, and Joint Meritorious Unit Award.

Brendan C. Johnson

Gunnery Sgt. Brendan C. Johnson (U.S. Marine Corps photo)

Gunnery Sgt. Brendan C. Johnson, 45, a KC-130 aircraft crew master with VMGR-452. Johnson was from Chittenden, Vermont, and joined the service Sept. 25, 1994. He deployed to Afghanistan and Southwest Asia from July to November 2002, and to Afghanistan and Iraq from May to July 2003. His awards include the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (three awards), Air Medal-Strike/Flight, Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal (four awards), and Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation (two awards).

Sean E. Elliott

Capt. Sean E. Elliott (U.S. Marine Corps photo)

Capt. Sean E. Elliott, 30, a KC-130 aircraft commander with VMGR-452. Elliott was from Orange, California, and joined the Corps on May 4, 2009. He had previously deployed to the Western Pacific from August 2016 to February 2017. His awards included the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal. He had reached his current rank Oct. 1, 2013.

Caine M. Goyette

Maj. Caine Goyette (U.S. Marine Corps photo)

Maj. Caine M. Goyette, 41, KC-130 aircraft commander with VMGR-452. Goyette, from Waterford, New York, joined the Marine Corps on Dec. 5, 1994. He had previously deployed twice to Afghanistan in September 2005, and June 2014, and twice with a special-purpose MAGTF, from December 2011 to April 2012, and from June to July 2012. His awards include the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (three awards), Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (two awards), Navy Unit Commendation, and Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation.

MARSOC officials planned to hold a press conference at Stone Bay, North Carolina, at noon Friday to provide a statement about their fallen troops.

-- Hope Hodge Seck can be reached at hope.seck@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @HopeSeck.

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