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Marines set to call Afghan crash 'pilot error'

KC-130
The KC-130 was similar to this one.  


From Jamie McIntyre
CNN Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Marine Corps will likely announce Wednesday that "pilot error" caused the January crash of a KC-130 tanker in Pakistan, the deadliest accident of the war in Afghanistan.

The aircraft exploded in fireball when it hit a mountain in Pakistan on January 9, killing all seven Marines on board, including the first woman service member killed in the combat zone.

Pentagon sources told CNN last month that military investigators ruled out mechanical malfunction and hostile fire in the crash, concluding that "pilot error" was the cause.

The Marine Corps has scheduled a news conference Wednesday afternoon to announce the cause at the Marine Corps Air Station at Miramar, near San Diego, California.

The sources said the pilot, Capt. Matthew W. Bancroft, 29, of Shasta, California, lost "situational awareness" during the night landing at a forward operating base in southwestern Pakistan as it was ferrying fuel to the battlefield.

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Sgt. Jeannette L. Winters, a 25-year-old field radio operator, became the first female Marine ever killed in a hostile-fire zone.

The crash occurred in a remote area near the town of Shamsi. The plane had taken off from Jacobabad, Pakistan.

Attending the news conference to answer questions will be:

  • Col. William D. Durrett, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing staff judge advocate.
  • Col. Randolph D. Alles, Marine Aircraft Group 11 commanding officer.
  • Lt. Col. Carl T. Parker, Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 352 commanding officer.


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