One of the three Marines who went missing after their MV-22 Osprey crashed off the coast of Australia was originally from Maine.
Joan Cross said her grandson, First Lieutenant Benjamin R. Cross, was born in Waterville and later moved to Bethel. She said her family was still reeling from the news.
“My beautiful grandson,” she said in a telephone interview with the Globe. “It’s such a shock. He’s only 26....It’s such a shock.”
Cross graduated from Telstar High School in Bethel, Maine in 2009. Dave Murphy, the school district superintendent, said in an e-mailed statement to the Globe that Cross “excelled as a scholar, athlete and student leader,” which led him to receive a United States Marine Corps ROTC scholarship in his senior year.
“Ben was well-liked and highly respected by his peers and teachers throughout his years at Telstar,” Murphy said in the statement. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this difficult time.”
Cross went on to attend the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, Virginia, where he majored in economics and business and graduated in 2013, according to Virginia Military Institute spokesman Stewart MacInnis.
MacInnis said Lieutenant Colonel William Bither, a member of the Commandant Staff, knew Cross personally and described him as a “tremendous young man” who “stood out as a leader in the corps of cadets.”
Cross’s parents told the Portland Press Herald that they learned Cross was missing on Saturday after the aircraft he was on went into the water off the east coast of Australia.
The MV-22 had launched from the USS Bonhomme Richard and 23 of the 26 personnel aboard were rescued, according to a US Marines Corps press release. The Marines said in the statement that the circumstances of the “mishap” are currently under investigation.
The U.S. Navy and Marine Corps suspended search and rescue operations Sunday and have since shifted to recovery efforts. The US Marine Corps reported that a Royal Australian Navy ship located the submerged aircraft on Sunday, and a dive team plans to use a remote operating vehicle in the recovery operations.Emily Sweeney can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @emilysweeney.