NEWBURGH, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A heart wrenching memorial was held in Orange County, New York Sunday for nine local Marines killed in a military plane crash last month.
The service was held at Stewart Air Base in Newburgh.READ MORE: Broadway League: Audiences Must Be Vaccinated And Masked; Performers, Crew And Staff Required To Be Vaccinated
As CBS2’s Brian Conybeare reported, 16 members of the military perished when their transport plane somehow exploded in midair.
Nine of them were based in upstate New York, where they’ll never be forgotten.
Hundreds of people gathered inside an airplane hangar at Stewart Air Base to mourn the loss of Yankee 7-2, the nickname of the crew killed when their C-130 transport plane exploded and crashed into a Mississippi soybean field on July 10th.
“These nine gentlemen that you see up here were class personified,” Marine Lt. Col. Joshua Eisenhower said Sunday.
Their commanding officer told the gathering of family, friends, and fellow Marines that the tight knit group knew how to work hard, but also how to blow off steam and play practical jokes on each other.
“When they put the uniform on, they boarded that aircraft and strapped in they were professionals,” Eisenhower said.READ MORE: Big Changes At The Top For MTA, New York City Transit Leadership
The military is still investigating exactly what caused the plane to go down in flames as it took six Marines and one sailor from Camp Lejeune in North Carolina to Arizona for specialized training.
One official called it a “massive mechanical failure” of some sort.
Three local Marines lost their lives including 20-year-old Corporal Daniel Baldassare from Colts Neck, New Jersey, Gunnery Sergeant Brendan Johnson, who lived with his wife in Orange County, and 26-year-old Sergeant Owen Lennon from Pomona, New York — who graduated from Ramapo High School in Rockland County.
A fellow Marine described Sgt. Lennon as, “A son, a brother, a soul mate, a friend, a fine engineer, and everyone knew him as a beer snob and one of the most outstanding Marines I know.”
A Navy chaplain urged the service members suffering from the devastating loss to do one thing moving forward.
“For each of their fellow Marines and sailors, may you keep the memories burning bright, that the fallen live in our memory,” he said.
The commanding officer of the Newburgh-based unit told the crowd Sunday he went to all nine funerals over the past month.MORE NEWS: Biden Administration Says National Eviction Moratorium Will Expire Saturday
As painful as it was, he says it was also overwhelming and healing to meet and hug the men’s loved ones.