PEORIA — Remains from a fatal mid-air crash last December that led to the death of a Tremont man and five others have been recovered, the U.S. Marine Corps announced Monday.
The Marines, in a news release, said remains were recovered during a salvage effort off the coast of Japan between May 27 and June 7. The remains will be sent to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware for further identification, the Marine Corps said.
"We reaffirm our deepest sympathy for all affected by this tragedy and those grieving the loss of the six Marines who perished in this accident. We also would like to express our sincere gratitude for the cooperation and expertise of the underwater salvage team," the corps said.
Daniel Baker, 21, was one of five U.S. Marines who went missing at about 2 a.m. Dec. 6, 2018, when a F/A-18D Hornet and a KC-130J Hercules collided during training roughly 55 nautical miles southeast of Cape Muroto in the Kochi Prefecture of Japan. Seven crew members — two in the fighter and five in the aerial tanker — were initially missing. Two were recovered. One of them, Capt. Jahmar F. Resilard, 28, of Miramar, Fla., died. After an extensive search and rescue effort, the U.S. Marine Corps declared all five in the KC-130J to be deceased, including Baker.
The Marine Corps said the KC-130J's cockpit voice and flight recorders were recovered. These devices are being delivered to a naval station in Patuxent River, Md., for analysis to assist in the on-going investigation. The service branch also said it wasn't clear how many remains were recovered.
A 2015 graduate of Tremont High School and an Illinois State Scholar, Baker was assigned to Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 152, which flies the KC-130J, a plane similar to the C-130H3 flown by the Illinois Air National Guard’s 182nd Airlift Wing, which is based in Peoria. The KC-130 is the Marine Corps’ primary fixed-wing aerial tanker that is used to provide in-flight refueling to aircraft such as the Hornet and helicopters likes the CH-53E Super Stallion. Known as the Sumos, the 152 squadron is stationed at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni in Japan.
The cause of the December 2018 aircraft mishap remains under investigation.
In a statement issued Wednesday, the family said they were "grateful to the Navy and Marines for all they are doing to investigate the cause of the December 6 incident and to search for and return as many of the crew of the downed KC130J as possible.
"It will likely be a number of days before we know the identities of the recovered remains. Regardless of the location of Daniel's physical remains on this earth, we have peace and comfort knowing that his eternal soul rests and rejoices with our savior Jesus Christ in heaven," the family said in the statement. "We appreciate the love, care and support that we have received from around the world these past six months. The public display of honor and respect shown for Daniel at the service last December was an overwhelming tribute. No additional public service is planned at this time."