Five US military personnel killed during mid-air refueling

  • US European Command confirmed five service members died in an aircraft training crash 
  • The crash happened Friday night during a mid-refueling and the victims identifies have not been revealed
  • President Joe Biden and Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin have issued statements following the tragedy 

Five US service members died after a military aircraft crashed over the Mediterranean Sea during a training operation.

On Sunday, US European Command confirmed that all five on board were killed after a search and rescue effort was launched.

The crash happened on Friday night in the eastern Mediterranean during a routine air refueling as part of the training.

‘Out of respect for the affected families, and in accordance with Department of Defense policy, the identities of the crewmembers are being withheld until 24 hours after next of kin notifications have been completed,’ said EUCOM.

When officials first announced the crash on Saturday, authorities said the cause was under investigation but there was no indication of hostile activity. 

U.S. European Command confirmed five service members died after a U.S. military aircraft crashed over the Mediterranean Sea during a training operation

The Boeing P-8 Poseidon

Boeing C-17 Globemaster III

President Joe Biden released a statement after the deaths: ‘Jill and I mourn the loss of 5 American service members who died when their aircraft crashed in the Mediterranean Sea during a training mission.’ 

‘We are praying for the families and friends who lost a precious loved one — a piece of their soul. Our entire nation shares their grief.’

Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin said, ‘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.’ 

‘They represent the best of America. We will remember their service and their sacrifice.’

It is unclear what military branch operated the aircraft and which specific planes were involved.

The Army Times reported plane spotters on social media flagged multiple Navy P-8 Poseidon maritime surveillance planes south of Cyprus on Saturday, as well as an Air Force C-17 Globemaster III — often used for aeromedical evacuations — departing the area. 

Headquartered in Stuttgart, Germany, European Command is comprised of 65,000 permanent military personnel responsible for US military operations across Europe, portions of Asia and the Middle East, the Arctic and the Atlantic Ocean.

On November 3, European Command announced three days of Naval exercises had taken place in the Mediterranean, where two carrier strike groups have been positioned since the start of the Israel-Hamas war.

The USS Gerald R. Ford and USS Dwight D. Eisenhower are currently in the region to warn Iran against getting involved in the current conflict.

Ships from the USS Gerald R. Ford and USS Dwight D. Eisenhower sail across the Mediterranean Sea on November 3

President Joe Biden and Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin have put out statements on the crash

European Command said that 11,000 people participated in the exercises, and ‘trained on high-value unit defense, ballistic missile defense, replenishments-at-sea, cross-deck flight operations, and maritime security operations.’

In August, three U.S. marines were killed and 20 others were injured in an aircraft training in Australia.

Their Boeing MV-22B Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft plunged to the ground and burst into flames on remote Melville Island.

US Marine Corps crew chief Corporal Spencer Collart, 21, pilot Captain Eleanor LeBeau, 29, and Major Tobin Lewis, 37, died in the crash. 


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