Five U.S. servicepeople were killed when a military aircraft crashed over the eastern Mediterranean Sea during a training mission, U.S. European Command said Sunday.
The aircraft crashed on Friday evening. EUCOM said all five crew members were killed when it went down “during a routine air refueling mission as part of military training.”
The military first announced the crash on Saturday and said that the cause is under investigation, but there are no indications of any hostile activity involved. It said on Sunday that “search and rescue efforts began immediately, including nearby U.S. military aircraft and ships.”
European Command said that out of respect for the families of the service members and in line with Department of Defense policy, the identities of the crew members are being withheld until 24 hours after next of kin notifications are completed.
It wasn’t immediately clear what military service the aircraft belonged to. The Air Force has sent additional squadrons to the region and the USS Gerald R. Ford aircraft carrier, which has an array of aircraft on board, has also been operating in the eastern Mediterranean.
"While we continue to gather more information about this deadly crash, it is another stark reminder that the brave men and women who defend our great nation put their lives on the line each and every day to keep our country safe," said Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III. "They represent the best of America. We will remember their service and their sacrifice. My prayers are with the patriots we have lost today and their families, loved ones, and teammates."
President Joe Biden released the following statement about the incident:
"Today, Jill and I mourn the loss of 5 American service members who died when their aircraft crashed in the Mediterranean Sea during a routine training mission. Our service members put their lives on the line for our country every day. They willingly take risks to keep the American people safe and secure. And their daily bravery and selflessness is an enduring testament to what is best in our nation. Jill and I are praying for the families and friends who have lost a precious loved one—a piece of their soul. Our entire nation shares their grief. And, during this weekend when we pause to honor our nation’s veterans, we once more affirm the sacred obligation we bear to those who volunteer to serve our nation as well as their families, caregivers, and survivors. We pray for the families of all our fallen warriors today and every day."
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