Marines: ’16 great Americans’ killed in Mississippi plane crash

LEFLORE COUNTY, Miss. -- The United States Marine Corps spoke publicly on the deadly KC-130 plane crash that killed more than a dozen service members in rural Mississippi.

"On board were 16 great Americans representing the United State Marine Corps and the United States Navy," Brigadier General Bradley S. James said Wednesday.

The KC-130 air tanker based out of Stewart International Guard Base in Newberg, New York was airlifting a team from the Marine Corp Special Operations Command  Second Raider Battalion from Cherry Point, North Carolina to Naval Air Facility El Centro in California.

They were then scheduled to fly to a Marine Air Corps Station in Arizona.

Tragically, they never made it.

At 4 p.m., the military was notified that air traffic control lost radar contact with the plane, which went down near Itta Bena in Leflore County, Mississippi.

The crash left behind two large impact areas about a half a mile north and south of Highway 82 and large amounts of debris.

Investigators told WREG off camera they are still finding pieces of the plane in nearby fields and woods, including one of the engines and a parachute that was not deployed.

The farmers who owned the fields were told the cleanup could take up to two weeks, but the Leflore County sheriff said he's hoping it won't take that long.

All 16 people on board were killed.

During the news conference on Wednesday, Brig. Gen. James stated the military immediately implemented a four phased approach to help them in the investigation.

The first step, he said, was recovering the remains of the deceased as well as to notify their next of kin.

As of Wednesday morning, all of the families have been notified, but the roster will not be released for at least another 24 hours out of respect.

Their next goal is to preserve the impact sites and equipment before launching an investigation into what exactly happened.

Once they are finished, the military said it will help cleanup and restore the areas near the impact sites.

While they haven't had any issues with people disturbing or taking items from those locations, officials reiterated that anyone who does could be subject to criminal prosecution.

Nine of the fallen Marines were from New York with the rest hailing from North Carolina.