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U.S. Forces Japan ends Search and Rescue Operations for missing Marines

18-023 | Dec. 10, 2018

YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan -- U.S. Forces Japan ended its search and rescue effort today for five Marines involved in the Dec. 6 accident between a KC-130 and an F/A-18.

“It is with a heavy heart that we have shifted to recovery operations,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Jerry Martinez, U.S. Forces Japan commander. “I ask that you please keep the families and friends of these Marines in your thoughts during this incredibly difficult time.”

The Marine Corps pronounced the five Marines deceased after an exhaustive search. U.S., Japanese and Australian forces conducted more than 800 hours of air and maritime search operations, covering more than 35,000 square miles of ocean.

“I am incredibly proud of and grateful for the efforts of the U.S. military along with our Japanese and Australian partners,” said Gen. Martinez. “Support from the Japan Self Defense Forces and Coast Guard was immediate and life-saving, and I thank them for their professionalism, dedication and robust support throughout this massive operation.” 

In addition to support from Japan, III Marine Expeditionary Force, 7th Fleet, 5th Air Force, U.S. Forces Korea and the Royal Australian Air Force provided vital, round-the-clock capabilities to support the search.

“We can’t thank our U.S. and allied teammates enough for their rapid reaction, cooperation and flexibility during this crucial mission,” said Gen. Martinez.

The circumstances of the mishap will be thoroughly investigated.

“On behalf of all the men and women of U.S. Forces Japan, I offer my sincerest condolences and prayers to the families of our lost comrades and to the entire Marine Corps family,” said Gen. Martinez.