U.S. Marines who perished in Norway helicopter crash identified

Four U.S. Marines killed when a helicopter crashed in Norway last week during a joint training exercise with NATO allies were identified Sunday.

In a statement, the U.S. Marines Corps identified the deceased: Capt. Matthew J. Tomkiewicz of Fort Wayne, Indiana; Capt. Ross A. Reynolds of Leominster, Mass.; Gunnery Sgt. James W. Speedy of Cambridge, Ohio; and Cpl. Jacob M. Moore of Catlettsburg, Kentucky.

Their bodies were en route to the United States, the Marines Corps said.

“The pilots and crew were committed to accomplishing their mission and serving a cause greater than themselves,” Maj. Gen. Michael Cederholm of the 2d Marine Aircraft Wing said in a letter to the families of the dead.

NATO allies and other U.S. military partners made offers of support, the corps said. Those entities included the Royal Norwegian Air Force, the Royal Norwegian Navy, and Italian, Netherlands, and United Kingdom military forces, it said.

Military officials said the MV-22 Osprey helicopter the Marines were using for training crashed Friday in extreme conditions, although they have yet to pinpoint a cause, and the crash remained under investigation.

The Marines, assigned to 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, II Marine Expeditionary Force, were participating in a large NATO exercise called Cold Response.

Although the exercise is intended to increase readiness in case there’s any aggression against NATO members from the “High North,” the alliance said, there was no indication the training was a direct response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

In a statement last week NATO described the cold-weather exercise as “long-planned.”

“Around 30,000 troops from 27 nations, including NATO’s close partners Finland and Sweden, are taking part in the exercise, as well as about 220 aircraft and more than 50 vessels,” the alliance said.

The aircraft involved, the MV-22 Osprey, which can take off and land like a helicopter but fly like a plane thanks to its “tiltrotor” engines, has had a trouble history over the two decades it’s been flying.

The helicopter was involved in crashes that killed more than 30 people before it went into service in 2007. The Marine Corps has stood steadfastly behind the vehicle.

Its makers, Boeing and Bell, say updated, redundant backup systems used to monitor its engine and computers have helped to make it a reliable workhorse.

The weather was so bad at the time of Friday’s crash that it was determined a responding helicopter could not land at the accident site, the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre North Norway said last week.

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