There were five Marines inside the KC-130J Hercules fuel tanker high above the Pacific shortly after midnight on Dec. 6, 2018. The five, two pilots and three enlisted aircrew, hailed from five different states — Arizona, North Carolina, Tennessee, New York and Illinois. Two were just 21 years old.
<aside data-pp-id="2" data-pp-blocktype="promo" class="promo small right"><h3 class="aside-head">Read More</h3> <div class="story-entry section-articles"> <div class="lead-art"> <a class="aspect-3-2" href="https://www.propublica.org/article/marines-hornet-squadron-242-crash-pacific-resilard"> <img alt src="https://assets.propublica.org/images/articles/_threeTwo400w/20191230-marines-parachutes-3x2.jpg" width="400" height="267"></a> </div> <!-- end if Featured Image --> </div> </aside><p data-pp-blocktype="copy" data-pp-id="3.0">The five died when a pilot in a jet fighter that had just refueled at 15,000 feet smashed into the tanker, which went by the name Sumo 41. The men and their tanker fell in a ball of flames to the ocean. The jet pilot from Fighter Attack Squadron 242 had not been qualified to refuel at night, but no one knew it because of a mix-up in the squadron’s system for tracking which pilots were cleared to do what exercises. A similar mistake had happened two years before in a nonfatal refueling accident, and investigators had called for the tracking system to be fixed.</p>
When he learned of the failure to fix the problem, along with other problems with preparedness, the commander of the five dead Marines castigated his superiors for failing to act.
“This concern has been reported repetitiously to higher headquarters,” Lt. Col. Mitchell Maury said, including to the Marine Corps’ commandant, its highest-ranking officer, and the Navy secretary, the top civilian leader. “Forward deployed units are consistently hindered by a lack of experienced personnel, and the result is decreased readiness and increased risk.”
Here are five brief profiles of the lost Marines from the tanker squadron.
<h3>Lt. Col. Kevin Herrmann Jr., 38</h3> <figure data-pp-id="5" data-pp-blocktype="image" class="image medium right">