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U.S. Marines who perished in Norway helicopter crash identified

The accident took place during NATO cold-weather exercises designed to increase readiness for any enemy aggression in the "High North."
U.S. Marines inspect a MV-22B Osprey at Air Force Base Bodo, Norway, on Wednesday. Four Marines were killed when their Osprey aircraft crashed in a Norwegian town in the Arctic Circle during a NATO exercise unrelated to Russia's war in Ukraine, authorities said Saturday.Lance Cpl. Elias E. Pimentel III / AP

Four U.S. Marines killed when a helicopter crashed in Norway during a joint training exercise with NATO allies last week were identified Sunday.

In a statement, the Marine Corps identified the deceased: Capt. Matthew J. Tomkiewicz of Fort Wayne, Indiana; Capt. Ross A. Reynolds of Leominster, Massachusetts; Gunnery Sgt. James W. Speedy of Cambridge, Ohio; and Cpl. Jacob M. Moore of Catlettsburg, Kentucky.

Their bodies were en route to the U.S., the Marine Corps said.

“The pilots and crew were committed to accomplishing their mission and serving a cause greater than themselves,” Maj. Gen. Michael Cederholm of the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing said in a letter to the families of the dead.

NATO allies and other U.S. military partners made offers of support, the corps said. They included the Royal Norwegian Air Force, the Royal Norwegian Navy and Italian, Dutch and U.K. military forces, it said.

Military officials said the MV-22 Osprey helicopter the Marines were using for training crashed Friday in extreme conditions. They have yet to pinpoint a cause, and the crash remains under investigation.

The Marines, assigned to the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, II Marine Expeditionary Force, were participating in a large NATO exercise called Cold Response.

Although the exercise is intended to increase readiness in case there is any aggression against NATO members from the "High North," the alliance said, there was no indication the training was a direct response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

In a statement last week, NATO described the cold-weather exercise as "long-planned."

"Around 30,000 troops from 27 nations, including NATO’s close partners Finland and Sweden, are taking part in the exercise, as well as about 220 aircraft and more than 50 vessels," the alliance said.

The aircraft involved, the MV-22 Osprey, which can take off and land like a helicopter but fly like a plane thanks to its "tiltrotor" engines, has had a troubled history over the two decades it has been flying.

The helicopter was involved in crashes that killed more than 30 people before it went into service in 2007. The Marine Corps has stood steadfastly behind the vehicle.

Its makers, Boeing and Bell, say updated, redundant backup systems used to monitor its engine and computers have helped make it a reliable workhorse.

The weather was so bad at the time of Friday's crash that it was determined that a responding helicopter could not land at the accident site, the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre North Norway said last week.