SYDNEY — The Marine Corps identified on Monday night the three Marines, including one from Maine, who were killed when their MV-22B Osprey aircraft crashed and sank off the coast of Australia on Saturday.

First Lt. Benjamin R. Cross, 26, of Bethel, Maine, died in the crash along with Cpl. Nathaniel F. Ordway, 21, of Sedgwick, Kansas, and Pfc. Ruben P. Velasco, 19, of Los Angeles, according to a statement issued by the III Marine Expeditionary Force’s public affairs office in Japan.

“The loss of every Marine is felt across our entire Marine Corps family. To the families of the brave Marines we lost – there is no way for us to understand what you are going through,” Col. Tye R. Wallace, commanding officer of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, said in a statement. “What we do know is that your Marines left a lasting impression on the 31st MEU, the Marine Corps, and the world. They will live on forever in our thoughts and our hearts.”

Cross was assigned to the Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 265, the statement said. His decorations include the National Defense Service Medal and the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal.

The Marine Corps has not said who was piloting the aircraft when it crashed Saturday evening off the coast of Shoalwater Bay Training Area in Queensland, Australia.

Cross had been stationed on the Japanese Island of Okinawa for the past year and had been training in Australia for the past three months, his family said.


A 2009 graduate of Telstar Regional High School in Bethel, Cross went on to attend the Virginia Military Institute. His family said he was a trained Marine aviator who had experience flying the Osprey. Family members told NBC Boston in an interview Monday at their home in Bryant Pond that they aren’t sure who was piloting the Osprey when it went down.

“It will take forever to express the love we had and still have for him,” said Valerie Cross, his mother.

“Part of me is gone,” said Cross’ older brother, Ryan. “He was the best, the absolute best. He always gave more than he received. He was a selfless person.”

“Just going to be really hard. We’re really going to miss him,” said Cross’ father, Robert Cross.

The submerged wreckage of the U.S. military aircraft was found Monday, two days after it crashed into the Coral Sea off the east coast of Australia, Australia’s defense minister said.

An Australian navy ship arrived in Shoalwater Bay in Queensland state Sunday night to help the U.S. military hunt for the Osprey, which the Marines said was conducting regularly scheduled operations on Saturday when it crashed into the water. The wreckage was found shortly after the ship’s arrival, Australian Defense Minister Marise Payne said in a statement.

Twenty-three other personnel who were on board the Osprey when it crashed were rescued.

The Osprey is a tilt-rotor aircraft that takes off and lands like a helicopter, but flies like an airplane. They have been involved in a series of high-profile crashes in recent years.

Staff Writer Dennis Hoey contributed to this report.

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