Daniel G. McCollum
Captain, United States Marine Corps
Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)
IMMEDIATE RELEASE No. 014-02
DOD IDENTIFIES SEVEN MARINES KILLED IN KC-130/R CRASH
The Department of Defense announced that the following Marines were killed as a result of the crash of a KC-130/R aircraft in Pakistan today:
Command Pilot: Captain Matthew
W. Bancroft, 29, of Shasta, California. He joined the Marine Corps
The Marines are assigned to Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 352 (VMGR-352), the "Raiders." Elements of VMGR-352 are attached to Combined Task Force 58, in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. VMGR-352 is home-based at the Marine Corps Air Station, Miramar, California.
The cause of the crash is under investigation.
According to his friends, McCollum dreamed of flying from his earliest years. In fact, while he was at Clemson, he began not only his involvement with the Marines but also his participation in the University’s Dixie Skydivers.
Jim Burriss, owner and operator of the drop zone at Oconee Regional Airport, met McCollum when the skydivers came to his drop zone. He remembered that McCollum was always a nice guy who related well to anyone.
“He got along well with all kinds of people, whether he knew them or not, and he seemed to fit in with the group (Dixie Skydivers) really well,” Burriss commented. Dr. Leo Gaddis, a mechanical engineering professor who taught McCollum, emphasized that he was “a bright kid” and “never arrogant.”
McCollum’s hard work in Dr. Gaddis’ class even earned him a recommendation for some part-time work with Gaddis’ son Ben. McCollum mainly did physical labor such as drilling holes in sheet rock while working with Ben Gaddis, but his diligence and kind spirit despite a somewhat menial job really impressed his employer. “He churned out work like no one else we ever had,” the younger Gaddis commented.
McCollum grew up in Irmo, S.C., before attending Clemson as a mechanical engineering major. He graduated from the University with a degree in mechanical engineering in December 1996 and promptly received his commission from the Marines, with whom he had been training since 1993.
The plane crashed around 8:15 p.m. as it approached a Marine base in Shamsi, Pakistan, according to Major Chris Hughes, a spokesman for the Marine Corps. While Pentagon officials do not believe enemy fire contributed to the crash, they have not yet ruled out that possibility. The circumstances surrounding the wreck are currently under investigation.
McCollum leaves behind Jennifer Harkey, his
wife of six months, who is pregnant with their first child. The child is
due on July 4, which creates the possibility that though it will never
meet him, this child will have an easy way to remember that its father
died honorably while serving his country.
SAN DIEGO -- 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; 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.
Photograph By M. R. Patterson, October 2002
MCCOLLUM, DANIEL GARDNER
CAPT US MARINE CORPS
VETERAN SERVICE DATES: 05/31/1993 - 01/09/2002
DATE OF BIRTH: 12/06/1973
DATE OF DEATH: 01/09/2002
DATE OF INTERMENT: 03/12/2002
BURIED AT: SECTION 60 SITE 8015
Posted: 19 October 2002 Updated: 29 June 2004 Updated: 3 September 2005 Updated: 26 Decembe 2005