SAN DIEGO — Three U.S. Marines killed in the weekend crash of an Osprey aircraft in Australia were identified Monday.
They were Cpl. Spencer R. Collart, 21, of Arlington, Virginia; Capt. Eleanor V. LeBeau, 29, of Belleville, Illinois; and Maj. Tobin J. Lewis, 37, of Jefferson, Colorado, according to a statement from their unit, Marine Rotational Force – Darwin.
Collart was the Osprey squadron’s crew chief; LeBeau was its pilot; and Lewis was its executive officer, the force said. All, based at Marine Corps Base Hawaii on Oahu, were decorated Marines who had each been awarded the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, it said.
“We are deeply saddened by the loss of three respected and beloved members of the MRF-D family,” Col. Brendan Sullivan, commanding officer of Marine Rotational Force – Darwin, said in the unit’s statement.
The force said three other Marines injured in the crash on Melville Island Sunday remained under the care of Royal Darwin Hospital in the city of Darwin, roughly 60 miles south of the crash site.
One of the three was described as being in critical condition; the other two were stabilized and recovering, the Darwin unit said. Seventeen Marines injured in the crash have been released from the Darwin hospital.
The Osprey with 23 U.S. Marines on board crashed “while transporting troops during a routine training exercise,” the U.S. Marines Corps said in a statement on Sunday.
The 2,000-member Darwin force, led from and mostly drawn from Camp Pendleton in San Diego County, is in its twelfth year of engaging in exercises in Australia and making the United States’ presence known in a region also influenced by China.
Its Osprey squadron was participating in “Exercise Predators Run,” a 12-day, joint-training mission that includes the United States, Australia, the Philippines, East Timor and Indonesia.
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese over the weekend called the crash a “tragic incident.”
After the crash last year of an Osprey tiltrotor aircraft that killed five U.S. Marines in the California desert, the U.S. Navy put all aircraft under its command, including non-deployed U.S. Marine Corps aircraft, on a temporary “safety pause.”
Osprey have suffered multiple crashes that have led to more than 50 deaths, according to the publication Task & Purpose. They can take off and land almost vertically, like a helicopter, while they can fly along a horizontal line, like an airplane.