Missing US Marine Ruben Velasco
Missing US Marine Ruben Velasco Contributed

"The grief is immeasurable": Third missing Marine identified

THE grim salvage and recovery mission of the crashed MV-22 Osprey and three missing US Marines will continue off the Capricorn Coast after the crash site was discovered last night.

In a statement released overnight, the US Marine Corps said the Royal Australian Navy Clearance Diving team yesterday completed embark aboard HMAS Melville to commence recovery operations near the site where the Osprey entered the water on Saturday afternoon.

READ MORE HERE: Grim search: US Marines recovery effort could take months

The location of the MV-22 was detected yesterday by Melville using its hydrographic capabilities.

Dive team members have finalised planning in conjunction with the US Marine Corps and US Navy aboard USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) and plan to commence recovery operations using a remote operating vehicle today.

 

The three missing Marines have been identified as Pilot Lt Benjamin Robert Cross from Maine, Corporal Nathan Ordway of Kansas and Ruben Velasco of La Puente, California.

Velasco, who was only identified overnight, was aged just 19. His family have started a GoFundMe page to raise funds for his funeral.

"Uniformed officers came to our house last night to inform us that the search and rescue for our son Ruben Velasco has been called off and is now considered a recovery," his father wrote.

"Our son was one of the three marines who were lost at sea in a military accident off the coast of Australia. While returning to to his ship, the aircraft struck the stern of the ship and crashed into the sea.

"Out of 26 marines, only 23 were rescued. Three Marines perished and Ruben was one of them. We are all in disbelief and cannot fathom the loss of our son.

"The grief my wife has to bare is immeasurable. Richard Velasco, Ruben's father, is equally devastated. My heart is broken for our family's loss.

"We celebrated his 19th Birthday only a few days ago which makes his passing even harder. Ruben is loved so very deeply and he will be missed by everyone who had the honour of knowing him."

Celebrating his birthday in Australia, Ruben posted pictures of himself with wildlife on Twitter. 

Close to $4500 has already been raised and further donations can be made here.

Twenty-three other Marines were rescued from the surface after the aircraft crash, with one fighting for his life in a Brisbane hospital.

The Marine, a 36-year-old aviator, suffered serious injuries including a fractured leg in the crash and was flown to Rockhampton Hospital before being transferred to the state's capital where his is in a critical condition.

 

The Royal Australian Navy Clearance Diving team completed embark today aboard HMAS Melville to commence recovery operations near the site where an MV-22 Osprey entered the water on Aug. 5.
The Royal Australian Navy Clearance Diving team completed embark today aboard HMAS Melville to commence recovery operations near the site where an MV-22 Osprey entered the water on Aug. 5. Lance Cpl. Jorge A. Rosales

III Marine Expeditionary Force Commanding General Lt. Gen. Lawrence Nicholson thanked the Australian Defence Force for their help and support.

"I want to thank the Australian Defence Force, and the crew of the HMAS Melville in particular, for their assistance in the search and recovery effort of our MV-22 that went down off the coast of Australia," said Lt. Gen. Nicholson

"They volunteered their help before we could even ask, demonstrating their friendship and value as international partners.

"The crew of the Melville and its assets have been invaluable in the recovery effort. On behalf of the Marines, sailors, and families of III MEF, I thank you for your support."


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