Investigators are still sifting through debris in Leflore County to determine why a U.S. military plane slammed into the ground on Monday. As MPB's Alexis Ware reports the incident is the deadliest Marine crash in more than a decade.
"We do have debris scattered on both sides of U.S. 82."
That's Greenwood Fire Chief Marcus Banks. He was one of the first responders on the scene after the Marine Corps KC-130 transport aircraft crashed in rural LeFlore County on Monday evening. He spoke to reporters about the crash on Tuesday at a staging site in Itta Bena.
"Large degree of smoke and high heat we noticed. We didn't know what was burning at the time but we did see flames smoke in a soybean field and we saw volunteers were already on the scene attempting fire suppression efforts."
The Marine Corps refueling and cargo plane went down in a soybean field, killing all 16 people aboard. The Marines say the aircraft was based at Stewart Air National Guard Base in Newburgh, New York. The flight originated from Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina, and was headed to California.
Seven of the U.S. troops killed were special operations forces, six were Marines and one was a sailor.
Banks says his experience in the military makes the crash hit close to home.
"Having worn the uniform, having been in service your heart always goes out to those men and women who serve our country. Our thoughts and prayers are with those individuals and their families who lost their lives as a result of this crash."
Officials have not released the names of those killed. Debris from the crash is scattered for miles around the LeFlore County soybean field. Governor Phil Bryant is warning Mississippians to not remove debris from the site as it is under investigation.