Marine Corps officials released on Friday, June 10, the names of the five Marines killed when their Osprey crashed over a firing range in the remote, soft and sandy area of the Imperial Valley desert.
The aircraft went down on Wednesday while the Marines were doing aerial gunfire training.
On board were Cpl. Nathan E. Carlson, 21, of Winnebago, Illinois, a crew chief; Capt. Nicholas P. Losapio, 31, of Rockingham, New Hampshire, a pilot; Cpl. Seth D. Rasmuson, 21, of Johnson, Wyoming, a crew chief; Capt. John J. Sax, 33, of Placer, a pilot; and Lance Cpl. Evan A. Strickland, 19, of Valencia, New Mexico, a crew chief.
“It is with heavy hearts that we mourn the loss of five Marines from the Purple Fox family,” the squadron’s commanding officer, Lt. Col. John C. Miller, said. “It is hard to express the impact that this loss has had on our squadron and its families. Our primary mission now is taking care of the family members of our fallen Marines and we respectfully request privacy for their families as they navigate this difficult time.
“We appreciate all the prayers and support from the strong extended Purple Fox family,” he added, “and want them to know that more information will be forthcoming on how to help.”
The aircraft was based at Camp Pendleton and part of the Marine Aircraft Group 39 with the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing. Recovery of the aircraft is continuing and an investigation is ongoing.
Though Marine Corps officials waited until all families members had been notified before publicly releasing the identities of the five dead, flags had already been ordered lowered Friday in Wyoming in honor of Rasmuson. He graduated from Buffalo High School in 2019.
Rasmuson grew up in a small town with a population of just under 5,000 people. He loved Wyoming’s wide-open spaces and its vast terrain and spent a lot of time outdoors with his family, including four brothers, his father, Curtis Rasmuson, said.
“He grew up hunting, fishing and camping,” he said.
And even as a child, Rasmuson had a mission to become a Marine, his father said. By his senior year of high school, Rasmuson had earned enough credits to graduate early and enlisted right after his 18th birthday.
His father said other service branches showed an interest in him and offered him incentives to compete with the Marine Corps, but his son wasn’t interested.
Curtis Rasmuson said his son was excited to go into aviation and thought it was a “cool” opportunity. To do so, he had to get additional training and went to schools in Florida and Maine.
“He loved flying and he talked about doing something in aviation when he got out,” Curtis Rasmuson said. The Marine was just a year short of his five-year military contract, receiving during his service the Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and a Sea Service Deployment Ribbon.
Seth Rasmuson talked with his family about flying in the Osprey and explained to his father how the aircraft worked. Oftentimes, he’d check in with his family when he flew. Especially when he deployed to the Middle East.
“He’d call from there and tell us about how many countries he’d been to,” his father said.
Just a few weeks ago, Seth Rasmuson had visited for his younger brother’s high school graduation.
He also leaves behind his wife, who was his high school sweetheart, and their 7-month-old baby boy.
Family also said Carlson was drawn to the Marine Corps as a young man, his own father a veteran of the branch.
“He chose aviation and he loved it a lot,” Gage McDonald, Carlson’s cousin, said Thursday.
Carlson had served in the Marine Corps for three years, having received the National Defense Service Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and the Sea Service Deployment Ribbon.
“Nathan was very friendly, he brightened everyone up,” McDonald said.
Losapio had been with the Marine Corps the longest among the five men – for eight years and nine months. During that time he received the Air Medal with Strike/Flight 2; the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal; a Navy Unit Commendation; the National Defense Service Medal; the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal; the Inherent Resolve Campaign Medal; the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal; and a Sea Service Deployment Ribbon.
Sax had served the Marine Corps for five years and eight months. His personal awards include the National Defense Service Medal; the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal; and a Letter of Appreciation.
Strickland had served in the Marine Corps for a year and seven months. His awards include the National Defense Service Medal and the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal.
Gov. Gavin Newsom also called for flags to be lowered at the State Capitol on Friday to honor the fallen Marines.
“Jennifer and I send our heartfelt condolences to the families and loved ones grieving the five Marines tragically lost this week,” he said in a statement. “Their selflessness and dedication to serving our country will forever be remembered.”
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Author: Erika I. Ritchie