A Camp Pendleton-based U.S. Marine was identified Tuesday as one of the victims in the fatal military aircraft crash off the east coast of Australia.
Pfc. Ruben Velasco, 19, was assigned to the Battery G, Battalion Landing Team for the third Battalion, fifth Marines based out of Camp Pendleton, according to the U.S. Marine Corps.
Velasco was among three U.S. Marines presumed dead after the submerged wreckage of a military aircraft was found two days after it crashed into the sea near Australia.
“The loss of every Marine is felt across our entire Marine Corps family. To the families of the brave Marines we lost – there is no way for us to understand what you are going through,” said Col. Tye R. Wallace, Commanding Officer, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, in a statement.
His decorations included the National Defense Service Medal and the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal.
The other victims were identified as first Lt. Benjamin Cross, 26, from Oxford, Maine and Cpl. Nathaniel Ordway, 21, from Kansas, according to the U.S. Marine Corps.
"They will live on forever in our thoughts and our hearts. You will always be a part of the Marine Corps family, and you will remain in our prayers," added Wallace.
Governor Jerry Brown honored Velasco by ordering that flags be flown at half-staff over the State Capitol. Brown is sending his condolences to the Velasco family in a letter.
An Australian navy ship arrived in Shoalwater Bay in Queensland state Sunday night to help the U.S. military hunt for the MV-22 Osprey, which the Marines said was conducting regularly scheduled operations on Saturday when it crashed into the water. The wreckage was found shortly thereafter, Australian Defense Minister Marise Payne said, in a statement.
Twenty-three other personnel who were on board the Osprey when it crashed were rescued. Three Marines went missing and were later presumed dead.
The Osprey is a tilt-rotor aircraft that takes off and lands like a helicopter but flies like an airplane. The aircraft has been involved in a series of high-profile crashes in recent years.