Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio of the US Archdiocese for the Military Services asked for prayers for the 15 Marines and one Navy corpsman who died on Monday when a Marine refuelling and cargo plane crashed in a soybean field in rural Mississippi near the town of Itta Bena.
“I express my heartfelt condolences to the families who lost loved ones in this terrible accident. My heart also goes out to their colleagues and others who worked with them. They also suffer the loss and ask questions,” Archbishop Broglio said in a statement released on Tuesday. “I ask the faithful to join me in prayer for the repose of those who died and the consolation of their families.”
He added, “Tragically, this is the second multi-fatal accident involving the Armed Forces in less than a month, coming so soon after the USS Fitzgerald collision with a cargo ship off the coast of Japan on 17th June. Our men and women in uniform put their lives on the line every day to defend our great nation and the freedoms we cherish. We should keep them in our prayers always, and never take their sacrifice for granted.”
Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant used Twitter to warn people not to remove debris from the area where the Marine Corps KC-130 crashed. Law enforcement authorities had received reports that items were being taken from the site, with debris scattered for miles.
The Marines said the air tanker was based at Stewart Air National Guard Base in Newburgh, New York, and headed to California. Seven of the dead were special operations forces based at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, where the plane had stopped en route to California.