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Marines Killed In Tanker Plane Crash
9 January 2002
From a press report: January 9, 2002:

Captain Matthew W. Bancroft, 29, Redding, California; Captain Daniel G. McCollum, 29, Irmo, South Carolina;; Gunnery Sergeant. Stephen L. Bryson, 36, Montgomery, Alabama; Staff Sergeant Scott N. Germosen, 37, New York; Sergeant Nathan P. Hays, 21, of Wilbur, Washington; Lance Corporal Bryan P. Bertrand, 23, Coos Bay, Oregon; and Sergeant Jeannette L. Winters, 25, Gary, Indiana, all Marines, killed in the crash of tanker plane into a mountain in Pakistan.


Publication date: 20 June 2002

SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA -- Human error likely caused the January crash of a refueling plane over Pakistan in which seven San Diego-based Marines were killed, according to a report released Wednesday.

The January 9, 2002, accident was the deadliest crash involving American forces during the U.S.-led effort to eradicate Osama bin Laden's terrorist network.

Investigators found that the KC-130 flight crew likely became disoriented while attempting a night landing in difficult conditions at an airfield in southwestern Pakistan, where the plane slammed into a mountainside, a review by the Marine Corps concluded.

"The most likely cause of this mishap was that the aircrew ... flew too far away from the field at too low an altitude," according to a summary of the review.

The KC-130 was approaching Bardari airfield near the village of Shamsi about 8 p.m. local time when it was redirected to take a different approach because the military wanted to reduce jet noise over the town and helicopters were parked too close to the landing strip.

Witnesses said they saw the plane circle twice in attempting to land before it crashed and exploded at an altitude of 3,800 feet. If they had gained another 200 feet, they would have cleared the mountain, officials said.

Aircraft at Shamsi must maintain an altitude of 7,000 feet for maneuvering and 5,600 feet to commence a landing attempt.

Colonel Randolph Alles, commanding officer of the Marine unit that includes the KC-130 squadron, said it's possible the crew was flying at the lower altitude because they were attempting a visual landing, but authorities aren't sure.

The crew had no night-vision equipment.

"They thought they were clear of the terrain," Alles said. "There was obviously a mistake in a high-demand environment."

Weather conditions were good that night but there was no moonlight and the crew had only the lights along the airstrip to guide them, according to investigators.

"It was not LAX," investigator Colonel William Durrett said, comparing the remote airstrip to Los Angeles International Airport.

Four people on the flight deck -- the pilot, co-pilot, navigator and flight engineer -- had "collective responsibility" for maintaining a safe altitude, Alles said.

Pakistan had agreed in October to allow U.S. forces to use the base, located 50 miles from the Afghanistan border, as a forward staging area.

Since the crash, the Marine Corps has begun retrofitting three KC-130s with night-vision landing equipment and has plans to do the same to 10 more. The report also recommended upgrading the navigation system on the aircraft.

While the modifications would have helped the crew, "neither would have necessarily prevented the mishap," the report concluded.

The squadron's commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel Carl Parker, said the finding of human error was "a bitter pill" for members of the squadron and families of the victims.

He said it was "safe to say" there was disbelief and anger among some family members.

Investigators acknowledged that the crew was experienced and well-trained, but operating under difficult conditions.

"All of the aircrew were at the top of their field," said Colonel William Durrett, part of the investigation team.

The crew of seven from Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego provided supply and aerial refueling support to the war effort.

The victims included Sergeant Jeanette L. Winters, 25, of Gary, Indiana, the first female military casualty in the Afghanistan campaign.

Also killed were Captain Matthew W. Bancroft of Redding, California; Gunnery Sergeant Stephen L. Bryson of Montgomery, Alabama; Lance Corporal Bryan P. Bertrand of Coos Bay, Oregon; Staff Sergeant Scott Germosen of New York; Sergeant Nathan P. Hays of Wilbur, Washington; and Captain Daniel G. McCollum of Irmo, South Carolina.



Marines Killed In Afghanistan Tanker Plane Crash - Gravesite PHOTO
Photograph By M. R. Patterson, October 2002


Posted: 19 October 2002 Updated: 9 March 2003

US Marine Corps SEAL
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Purple Heart Medal

Matthew W. Bancroft
Captain, United States Marine Corps
California State Flag
Daniel G. McCollum
Captain, United States Marine Corps
South Carolina State Flag
Stephen L. Bryson
Gunnery Sergeant, United States Marine Corps
Alabama State Flag
Scott N. Germosen
Staff Sergeant, United States Marine Corps
New York State Flag
Nathan P. Hays
Sergeant, United States Marine Corps
Washington State Flag
Bryan P. Bertrand
Lance Corporal, United States Marine Corps
Oregon State Flag
Jeanette L. Winters
Sergeant, United States Marine Corps
Indiana State Flag