The US Marine Corps has identified the four Marines killed when their aircraft crashed during a NATO exercise in Norway. In statements shared over the weekend, Norwegian authorities stated the cause of the crash is still under investigation, but that the likely cause was bad weather.
The four were assigned to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 261, Marine Aircraft Group 26, 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, II Marine Expeditionary Force, stationed out of Marine Corps Air Station New River, North Carolina. They have been identified as Captain Matthew J. Tomkiewicz; Corporal Jacob M. Moore; Captain Ross A. Reynolds; and Gunnery Sergeant James W. Speedy.
Writing on Twitter shortly after the crash, Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre said, “It is with great sadness we have received the message that four American soldiers died in a plane crash last night. The soldiers participated in the NATO exercise Cold Response. Our deepest sympathies go to the soldiers’ families, relatives and fellow soldiers in their unit.”
It is with great sadness we have recived the message that four American soldiers died in a plane crash last night. The soldiers participated in the NATO exercise Cold Response. Our deepest sympathies go to the soldiers' families, relatives and fellow soldiers in their unit.
— Jonas Gahr Støre (@jonasgahrstore) March 19, 2022
The Marines were flying onboard an MV-22B Osprey on March 18, 2022. It was on its way to a location north of Bodø, located within the Arctic Circle, to participate in the NATO exercise Cold Response. It was scheduled to land just before 6:00PM local time.
After it went missing, a search and rescue mission was launched. The wreckage was later spotted by a rescue helicopter in Graetaedalen, in Beiarn, and the Osprey appeared to have “major damage.” The cause of the crash is currently under investigation, but officials have said the area was experiencing bad weather at the time.
“Though the nature of military service is inherently dangerous, the safety of our Marines, Sailors, Allies and partners is our top priority,” the Marine Corps wrote in a statement. “Our hearts go out to the families affected by these events. The incident is currently under investigation by both Norwegian and U.S. Organizations.
“Norwegian civil authorities took the lead in search and rescue efforts, and we are grateful for their professional commitment to our enduring relationship,” the statement continued. “We are immensely grateful for the support of all first responders, the Norwegian Armed Forces, and Allies and partners that contributed various aspects and people in the ongoing efforts.”
Cold Response is an exercise between NATO’s member countries and allies, occurring every two years. Conducted in the Arctic Circle, it features 30,000 troops, 50 vessels and 220 aircraft, and focuses on preparing troops for cold weather engagements in the air, on land and at sea.
As NATO’s website reads, “Over the coming weeks, Allied and partner forces will trek across the vast wilderness, conduct live-fire drills, leap into freezing lakes, and much more.” The exercise is not related to the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine, and is expected to run until April 1, 2022.
The bodies of the four Marines have since been removed from the crash site and are in the process of being returned to the US.