Crash kills 7 Marines

By Robert Burns

Associated Press

WASHINGTON – A U.S. military tanker plane crashed into a mountain in Pakistan, killing all seven Marines aboard, the Pentagon said. It was the worst U.S. casualty toll from the war in neighboring Afghanistan.

Two of the Marines were from the Pacific Northwest. Sgt. Nathan Hays, 21, was from Lincoln, Wash. – about 45 miles west of Spokane. Lance Cpl. Bryan Bertrand, 23, was from Coos Bay, Ore.

“It’s terrible, but we’re proud of him,” said Bertrand’s father, Bruce. He said his son could have been home about a month ago, but volunteered for another tour of duty. “He didn’t want to be on the sidelines.”

Pentagon officials said there were no signs that the plane, a KC-130 used for in-flight refueling or hauling cargo, was brought down by enemy fire.

The crash occurred Wednesday night local time, and a search-and-rescue mission continued into this morning. The Pentagon identified the dead Marines shortly before midnight in Washington, D.C.

The plane crashed as it approached a military airfield called Shamsi in southwestern Pakistan. That air base is about 180 miles southwest of the city of Quetta, according to U.S. Central Command.

Witnesses reported seeing flames shooting from the plane before it slammed into the mountain.

A Central Command spokesman, Maj. Ralph Mills, said Marines and Pakistanis had approached the crash site, but no bodies had been recovered as of late Wednesday.

“We made it to the crash site on foot,” Mills said. “But they were unable to remain there. It is a very steep grade, and they were unable to get footing. The site is secure.”

Central Command, which is responsible for U.S. military operations in Pakistan and the surrounding region, said the four-engine KC-130 Hercules took off from Jacobabad, Pakistan, and was making multiple stops.

President Bush said the crash was a reminder of “how serious the times are today.”

“Our hearts and prayers go out to the families of the soldiers,” Bush said at a fund-raiser for the re-election of his brother Jeb as governor of Florida. “But I want to remind them that the cause that we are now engaged in is just and noble. The cause is freedom, and this nation will not rest until we’ve achieved our objective.”

In a brief exchange with reporters at the Pentagon, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said he did not know the circumstances of the crash or whether the KC-130 was on a refueling mission. “I’m going to wait for the investigation to be completed,” he said. “We’ve got some folks heading up there now.

“It is a tough, dangerous business over there,” he said. “They’re doing difficult things and they’re doing them darned well, and it just breaks your heart.”

Saeed Malangzai, a journalist who lives about 40 miles from the crash site, said the plane went down in mountains in southern Balochistan province.

“Residents saw flames from the burning plane before it crashed into the Lundi mountains,” Malangzai said.

Pakistani troops encircled the area, he said.

The KC-130 is a $37 million plane routinely used by the Marine Corps for in-flight refueling of helicopters. It is also used for troop and cargo delivery, evacuation missions and special operations support. It normally carries a six-person crew of two pilots, a navigator, flight engineer, mechanic and loadmaster.

The only other fatal crash of a U.S. military aircraft during the war in Afghanistan, which began Oct. 7, was an Army Black Hawk helicopter that crashed in Pakistan on Oct. 19, killing two Army Rangers.

Copyright ©2002 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

A view of one of the potential locations of the new Aquasox stadium on Monday, Feb. 26, 2024 in Everett, Washington. The site sits between Hewitt Avenue, Broadway, Pacific Avenue and the railroad. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
20 businesses could be demolished for downtown Everett stadium

Some business owners say the city didn’t tell them of plans for a new AquaSox stadium that could displace their businesses.

Kathy Purviance-Snow poses for a photo in her computer lab at Snohomish High School on Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024, in Snohomish, WA. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
To ban or embrace ChatGPT? Local teachers fight AI with AI — or don’t

“It has fundamentally changed my teaching in really stressful and exciting ways,” an EvCC teacher said. At all levels of education, ChatGPT poses a tricky question.

In this Feb. 5, 2018, file photo a Boeing 737 MAX 7 is displayed during a debut for employees and media of the new jet in Renton, Wash. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)
FAA gives Boeing 90 days to develop plan to fix quality, safety issues

The agency’s ultimatum comes a day after a meeting with CEO Dave Calhoun and other top Boeing officials in Washington, D.C.

A man walks by Pfizer headquarters, Friday, Feb. 5, 2021, in New York. Pfizer will spend about $43 billion to buy Seagen and broaden its reach into cancer treatments, the pharmaceutical giant said. (AP Photo / Mark Lennihan, File)
Pfizer backs out of Everett manufacturing plant after $43B Seagen deal

Pfizer finalized the acquisition of the Bothell-based cancer drug developer in December.

SonShine Preschool inside First Baptist Church Monroe is pictured Friday, March 1, 2024, in Monroe, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
SonShine preschool in Monroe to close at the end of the year

The preschool, operated by First Baptist Church, served kids for 25 years. School leadership did not explain the reason behind the closure.

Cars drive through snow along I-5 in Snohomish County, Washington on Thursday, Jan. 11, 2024.  (Annie Barker / The Herald)
In March, 7 p.m. sunsets are back for Western Washington

Washingtonians will finally start seeing more sun starting March 10. But a little more winter could be on the way first.

One of the parking lots at Stevens Pass Thursday afternoon on December 30, 2021.  (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Stevens Pass to charge $20 for parking reservations on busy days

Two-thirds of spaces will remain free for early arrivers on weekends. Cars with four or more occupants can also park free.

Lynnwood
Days after shootout with Lynnwood police, suspect checks into hospital

Police learned the 18-year-old was in a hospital in Portland, Oregon. His alleged role in the shooting remained unclear.

Everett
Snohomish County pharmacy tech accused of stealing 2,500 opioid pills

Rachel Langdon stole oxycodone while working at a Snohomish County pharmacy, according to state Department of Health allegations.

Patrick Kunz speaks during his sentencing on Thursday, Feb. 29, 2024, at Snohomish County Superior Court in Everett, Washington.(Annie Barker / The Herald)
Everett gymnastics coach who spied on students sentenced to 6 months

Patrick Kunz, 47, pleaded guilty to charges of voyuerism and possession of child pornography last month.

Traffic moves along Highway 526 in front of Boeing’s Everett Production Facility on Nov. 28, 2022, in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / Sound Publishing)
Everett transgender mechanic alleges Boeing treated her ‘like a zoo animal’

For years, Boeing allowed toxicity “to fester and grow” at its Everett factory, according to Rachel Rasmussen, an employee from 1989 to 2024.

Everett police officers survey the scene of a shooting along East Casino Road on Friday, Oct. 13, 2023 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Washington’s 5th police academy could be in Snohomish County

A new academy in Northwest Washington would help clear a lengthy wait list for new police hires to get training.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.